It’s the perennial, Halloween-night question that we pepper the costumed, goody bag-toting tykes and snot noses who come to our doors.
Darth Vader? Wonder Woman? Frankenstein?
And – wait a minute, buddy, aren’t you a tad too old to be trick-or-treating? – what of this tall, lanky, middle-aged man with the chrome dome – sans costume? Who’s he supposed to be?
Well, if some notable opinion polls in recent weeks are correct (Rasmussen and Quinnipiac, to name but two) they would have us believe he is Rick Scott, our next – and Florida’s 45th – governor.
They foretell us that Sunshine Staters on Election Day are about to appoint a relative political nobody, a blank slate, to the lofty position of CEO of the nation’s fourth most populous state, leader to 18 million of us.
And what if this man were to show up on your front doorstep on Halloween night? It prompted me to imagine the scenario –
RICK SCOTT: Hi, I’m Rick Scott and I’m running for governor.
VOTER: Uhh…okaaaaay. You know, you’re kinda too, uh – how do I put it? – mature to be trick-or-treating, mister, don’t ya think?
SCOTT: Oh, no, I’m not here to ask for any candy. I’m here to ask for your vote on Tuesday.
SCOTT: So, can I rely on you to turn out and vote, and bring along whoever else you know?
VOTER: Well, I’d like to ask you a few questions first. I mean, I’d like to know a little more about the guy who’s asking me for my vote.
SCOTT: Sure, fire away.
VOTER: I keep hearing about all this stuff about when you were CEO of Columbia/Health Corporation of American. Your company was engaged in rampant Medicare fraud, which resulted in an FBI investigation and record fines of $1.7 billion.
SCOTT: Uhhh… yeah… uh, let’s not go there.
VOTER: Whaddaya mean? It seems like a legitimate issue.
SCOTT: I’d rather talk about what my plans for Florida.
VOTER: Well, I’d like to talk about this Medicare fraud. You were forced to resign after the investigation and you’ve been evasive about your role in the fraud ever since. Did you actually participate in fleecing us citizens and making a personal killing off it?
SCOTT: Uhh…I beg to disa–
VOTER: And I read that you signed annual company reports that repeatedly warned Columbia/HCA’s actions ran afoul of the law.
SCOTT: Well now…
VOTER: And that you refused to release depositions you gave in civil lawsuits that alleged fraud and criminal wrongdoing at Solantic, that chain of urgent care centers you founded. I recall reading that you invoked your Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate yourself 75 times in that case.
SCOTT: Like I said then (chuckling), “I plead the Fifth.”
VOTER: Hey, wait a minute, I’m not a grand jury! And you’re not under indictment. Why can’t you just level with me?
SCOTT: I really have nothing to add other than what I said then, and besides I want to focus on Florida’s future.
VOTER: Excuse me, I do, too, but part of “focusing on Florida’s future” is are we choosing a governor who has some sort of ethical problems that make him incompetent and untrustworthy of the job?
SCOTT: Listen, I’m not here to stir up any trouble. I just want to know if I can count on your vote.
VOTER: The Bradenton Herald, in endorsing Alex Sink, said that all of your lack of candor “portends a governorship with little regard for transparency and accountability” and raises questions about your honesty. And Florida Today calls your record an “ethical black hole” that deems you “untrustworthy and unfit for office.”’ What do you say to all that?
SCOTT: They have a right to endorse whomever they want, but, frankly, they’ve distorted my record and made me out to be somebody I’m not.
VOTER: What’s it gonna take to make you go away? Some Jujubes? Tootsie Rolls? Candy corn? The whole bowl of candy?
SCOTT: I’m not here for the candy. I’m here for your vote.
VOTER: And I read that you’ve spent over $50 million of your fortune for a job that pays only $133,000. (Fishing around in the candy bowl) I know I’ve got a 100 Grand bar in here you might like…
SCOTT: But I’ve already said I’m not going to collect a penny of it if elected.
VOTER: Well, that’s reassuring. It’s only a drop in the bucket compared to all the millions you’ve already spent trying to buy the office.
SCOTT: Come now, that was a low blow.
VOTER: Was it?
SCOTT: Listen, I’m just here to ask for your vote. So, can I count on you Tuesday?
VOTER: Well, let me put it this way, Mr. Scott, in terms you might appreciate: I’d like to plead the Fifth on that.
SCOTT: (laughing) So you’re going to play hard-to-get, right?
VOTER: Okay, mister, you’re apparently having some trouble catching my drift. So let me put it this way: Here’s a Milky Way bar, here’s some Good and Plenty, and here’s a Snickers. I can only snicker at your request for my vote, for I’ve got good and plenty of reasons not to waste it on you, and there’s no way in the Milky Way you’re ever gonna get it. Got it? Great! Now goooood night!
SCOTT: But –
(Door slams shut.)