For real? U.S. Sen. Rick Scott got lousy reviews as FL governor — and now he wants to be president?

Rick Scott, shown here in September 2019, was hardly a font of transparency as governor.

Rick Scott really misses being governor of Florida.

He misses the mansion; he misses tootling about in his private jet; he misses having the power to do cool stuff like deny voting rights to ex-felons, decree the phrase “climate change” verboten, and standing before the cameras, pretending to care about whatever lurid disaster has befallen the state.

There’s only one office he’d like better than being governor of our large, lazy, low-tax state, and that’s president of the United States.

Scott’s running–in 2024, of course, assuming we still have a functioning Constitution and the short-fingered vulgarian in the White House hasn’t declared the US his personal Kaiserreich.

Scott went on Fox “News” admonishing his successor, Ron DeSantis over his “lack of transparency” in Florida’s COVID-19 outbreak.

I was a little surprised,” Scott said. “I was very surprised, actually — when I heard about the death in Lee County, which is adjoining to the county I live in.”

Scott touts his “transparency” and his ace handling of the Zika virus as governor, loftily advising DeSantis to “do everything you can to keep the public informed, so they can make an informed decision.”

DeSantis may also be considering a 2024 White House run, so Scott figures it’s never too early to diss him.

Truth is, neither of these trumpery (Trumpery?) Republicans will win any accolades for conducting the Sunshine State’s business in the actual sunshine.

Scott is, to paraphrase Dean Wormer, a sneaky little, er, rhymes with spit. As governor, he tried to avoid Florida’s open records laws with secret gmail accounts, and taxpayers had no clue what he was up to all day until a judge ordered him to reveal his official schedule.

Florida citizens paid about $1 million for lawsuits forcing him to release documents we legally have a right to see.

As for Scott’s handling of Florida’s mosquito-borne Zika plague in 2016 and 2017, the reviews are lousy. He refused to coordinate with mayors and withheld information from local officials.

The Miami Herald had to sue in order to discover the locations of Zika-carrying mosquito hot spots in Dade County.

As a former advisor to Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “For Rick Scott to come in now and be the voice of transparency during a health crisis is beyond disingenuous.”

But as the man (could have been Churchill, could have been Machiavelli) said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

To be fair, the current governor hasn’t been a crystalline fount of information about  COVID-19.

Maybe both he and Scott are just aping their master, the Stable Genius in the White House, last seen at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wearing a “Keep America Great” ball cap, grimly holding up an electron microscope image of the coronavirus, and whining, “I just think this is something that you can never really think is going to happen.”

Yeah, just because we had HIV, SARS, Zika, H1N1, and Ebola, all in the 21st century, who could have predicted we’d have another deadly virus? Who knew “healthcare could be so complicated”?

America is so tremendously, fantabulously great, greater than it’s ever been in the history of the universe, that surely the CDC doesn’t need all that money it gets: how much can a bunch of masks and gloves and developing an effective and safe vaccine cost, anyway?

Since Trump has been president, he’s tried to slash the CDC’s appropriation by nearly two-thirds.

Trump feels “science” is overrated. And he ain’t skeered: he looked directly at the sun during an eclipse; he shook hands with Georgia Rep. Doug Collins after Collins had been exposed to someone infected with coronavirus at CPAC, the yearly rightwing nutfest.

He invited Florida’s own Congressman Matt Gaetz to ride on Air Force One, though Gaetz had also been at CPAC.

Gaetz, you will recall, recently showed up on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives wearing a gas mask, mocking fears of the coronavirus.

Then he heard someone from his district had died of the disease.

(Insert your own karma joke here.)

Gaetz began his two-week self-quarantine, he says, by spending the night “in a Walmart parking lot somewhere off I-85.”

There is absolutely no evidence alcohol was involved.

He has subsequently tweeted that a test reveals he’s coronavirus free, putting him at liberty to return to Congress or maybe join the Spring Breakers on 30A, where there’s no lack of disinfectants.

Meanwhile, a nation waits with baited (possibly beery) breath: Will Donald Trump become infected with COVID-19, and how will be able to tell? (The White House this weekend said Trump’s test was negative.)

And what of Rick Scott? He has just announced he will go hang upside down in a cupboard for a couple of weeks, what with him hanging out at Mar-a-Lago with a Brazilian press aide who tests positive for coronavirus.

After that, expect another Spanish language ad (“¡Estoy libre de enfermedades! ¡Eligame presidente in 2024!”) as he kicks off his campaign, wafting about in a cloud of Purell and Clorox.

Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.