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  1. Opinion

Ruth: Scott vs. Godzilla? Monstrously difficult to choose

At least for one member of the audience, this event might well have been regarded as the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Seething.

I had been invited to speak at last weekend's annual celebration of the written word. And yes, I'll save you the trouble. My participation in a program that featured such literary luminaries as R.L. Stine, Carl Hiaasen and Rose Styron, the widow of William Styron, was like including Otis, the Mayberry town drunk, to opine about the nuances of French wine.

During my session, a man raised his hand and testily inquired if Gov. Rick Scott had been running for re-election against Attila the Hun and Godzilla, would the Times editorial board still have avoided recommending Scott for a second term?

This was a complex question requiring a great deal of thought.

Let us consider the theoretical candidacy of Mr. Attila (Or is it Mr. Hun?) as a potential governor of Florida.

It is certainly true Mr. Attila would bring some baggage to the stump as he is widely viewed as one of history's most brutal, murderous dictators, which in the hands of a skilled political consultant and enough commercials could be easily rebranded as merely a strong law-and-order candidate and the innocent victim of a smear campaign.

And as Mike Dash noted in writing for Smithsonian.com in 2012, there is some evidence Mr. Attila's reign wasn't all simply heads on a pike. More recent assessments of Mr. Attila's style of governance suggest he was a man of his word and put great value on loyalty. There is no evidence to indicate he took the Fifth 75 times in a civil deposition.

Unlike Scott, who rejected $51 billion in federal Medicaid expansion money, Mr. Attila had no problem accepting hundreds of pounds in Roman gold payments during his rule.

It is true that Mr. Attila was no fan of public education. But then again, neither is Scott.

Mr. Godzilla also has some problematic concerns, such as temperament. And his retail political talents could certainly use some refinement. However, Scott is also known for speaking in an incomprehensible tongue.

Working to his advantage is Mr. Godzilla's unfortunate overexposure to radiation. This might well suggest a Godzilla administration in Tallahassee would be far more sensitive to environmental concerns, which have languished during the Scott administration.

And it would appear a Gov. Godzilla would be rather insistent Duke Energy return the $3 billion it is charging customers for nuclear plants that are broken or will never be built. The negotiations would certainly be interesting since, if history has taught us anything, it is that Mr. Godzilla does have anger management issues.

Scott has had little patience with the state's open meetings and public records laws, and he avoids giving straight answers on issues ranging from gay marriage to climate change. You can't deny that Floridians would always know where Gov. Godzilla was at any given time simply from the sounds of crushed buildings.

Floridians could fairly be excused over concerns Mr. Godzilla might pepper state bureaucracies with some questionable political appointees such as Mothra as education commissioner, King Kong running the Department of Corrections and the Creature from the Black Lagoon assuming leadership of the state's Department of Environmental Protection.

But then Scott's appointees at DEP and elsewhere have not been shining lights.

So as you can see, the man's question at the reading festival was not an easy one for me, and I avoided a straight answer. Thankfully, he didn't ask how I thought Scott would fare in a debate against a zombie.

Dead heat?

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