Bipartisan bonhomie goes only so far, though. The Secret Service prohibits guns within the convention center, but in a state with more than a million concealed-weapons permits, Tampa will be swimming in sidearms. When Buckhorn asked the governor to ban concealed weapons temporarily in town during the convention, Scott scoffed.

"I'm not an anti-gun kind of guy. I've got guns. Up until probably six months ago, I had a concealed-weapons permit," Buckhorn boasts. "But to interject guns into a potentially combustible environment to me is absurd."

He says Scott's snarky response was probably written by the NRA. "He has his opinions about the Second Amendment and he isn't going to let the safety of the public or our police officers get in the way of it."

Scott's decision isn't popular in left-leaning Tampa, but it has gone down well in nearby, rabidly Republican Hillsborough County.

"Who's more likely to have a gun: a pinko commie liberal or a god-fearing Republican?" reasons Joseph Wendt, a Romney supporter in the area. "If you're a bunch of liberal activists going to protest a conservative event where people are legally allowed to carry guns, you better behave."

Buckhorn's stance hasn't exactly endeared him to progressives plotting to protest the convention, either. They decry his plan to put them in three "clean zones" located several blocks from the Times Forum. And they fear retaliation from the 4,000 heavily armed police officers — paid for by a $50 million Homeland Security grant — who will cordon off downtown.

"We're not going to do anything illegal," says Corey Uhl, head of Students for a Democratic Society at the University of South Florida. "But with the recent frameups of NATO protesters in Chicago, you never know what the government will do."

Others are arguably already breaking the law. A group called the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign rented the land behind an Army surplus store near the Forum. They spread mulch on the parking lot, set up a portable toilet, erected Pepto Bismol-pink tents, and called it "Romneyville." Local officials say the tents violate zoning laws, but protesters say they'll handcuff themselves to fences rather than leave.

Buckhorn's office has tried to contain the craziness by barring protesters from bringing props such as puppets and masks. But he will have his hands full with Code Pink's vagina costumes.

The outfits were inspired by an incident last year when a Democratic state rep joked that the only way for a Florida woman to avoid Republicans' invasive reproductive regulations was to "incorporate her uterus." Republicans scolded him for using the word on the House floor.

"These stupid old-boy white men want to legislate our vaginas," says Anita Stewart, a home healthcare practitioner with a grandmotherly air. "They came out of a vagina and spend the rest of their lives trying to crawl back up in one, but they don't want to hear the word.

"We're not in the 17th century anymore," Stewart says. "Vagina!"

Governor!" The shout spun Rick Scott away from his budget presentation and toward the press pool. "You benefit from hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars every year," asked a reporter he didn't recognize. "So would you be willing to pee into this cup to prove to Florida taxpayers that you're not on drugs, that you're not using that money for drugs?"

"I've done it plenty of times," Scott stuttered.

"Would you pass this forward to the governor?" the reporter said, handing another journalist an empty plastic piss cup.

Sadly, Scott didn't take a leak. But two months later, the stunt aired on an episode of The Daily Show, lambasting Scott for his welfare drug testing.

It was the most visible victory yet for a native son bent on airing his home state's unparalleled craziness. "When I first came to Florida as a boy, I said to myself: 'One day I'm going to ask the governor of this state to give me a urine sample in the middle of a press conference,'" says Aasif Mandvi, the comedian-cum-satirist. "Finally my dream came true, and I can cross it off my bucket list."

Daily Show host Jon Stewart insists the program is "fake news," yet its sketches surgically expose political hypocrisy better than any 60 Minutes piece. Florida is a favorite target, and Mandvi, who grew up in Tampa, is the perfect gonzo guide.

Born in Mumbai, Mandvi moved to northern England when he was a year old. Fifteen years later, his shop-owner father saw ads for real-estate deals in Florida and moved the family to Tampa. "I came from an all-boys British boarding school to a place where girls were wearing short shorts and everyone was running around on skateboards," he remembers. "It was completely another dimension for me."

As a Muslim Indian with a British accent, Mandvi was triply out of place. His new neighbors didn't know what to make of him. "I don't think that in the 1980s Americans knew that there were other countries," he jokes. "They knew that the oil came from somewhere, but they weren't sure where exactly."

After high school, he stayed in Tampa to attend the University of South Florida. He majored in theater and later landed a job at Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando making fun of guests as part of a wandering improv group. Three years later, he moved to New York.

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5 comments
pitipua
pitipua

Ha! I guess the 3 republicans in SF converged to troll this page tonight. I usually loathe the SF Weekly as too libertarian for my taste, but this time they aced it with this story! Excellent analysis in my opinion. As a former FL resident, I attest to everything in the article being absolutely true! That's why I don't live there anymore, thank goodness! Overheated, godforsaken barren wasteland if there ever was one. It's the land of runaway capitalism, although in fairness you could say that already about this whole country. Greed will finally destroy it, as already has done in FL, a place where dog-eat-dog is the norm for every interaction, and almost complete destruction of the public sector has taken place. Good job, 1%! Soon you won't have a country to exploit anymore, thanks to your own moronic short-sightedness and self-interest!

karentewart
karentewart

Wow! Who pissed in your cornflakes?  Amazing the ranting and raving going on here when the excesses of the other party are just as great, if not more.  I would rather attend an 'orgiastic' event than a massive rock style festival set up to pay homage to a demagogue with no practical experience.  I guess it's all ok under the new era of subjective journalism.

hplovecraft
hplovecraft

Illustrations by a Rick Sealock... That's a 'Nom de Plume' for Ralph Steadman , right ?

I'm thinking 'copy rights' and so on...

red.marcy.rand
red.marcy.rand topcommenter

What a rant ! Did either Big Bruce Brugmann of the SFBG or Big Bruce Anderson of the AVA buy out SF Weekly ? Your rag is starting to read like a print version of KPFA.

All Commie crapola, all the time. I bet your face looks like Robert Gammon's hemorrhoids.

We have enough of a one party state around here with goy boy Miller's 69ing for the Marxist in the

Black House.

trustus
trustus

Wow maybe a little harsh, although your frustration is understandable, perhaps not everyone in Florida is all bad.

Isn't it almost amusing to see very rich people from private Gated-Communities organize their very own private Gated-Republican Presidential Convention. They are pretty busy making elaborate preparations, so that they won't have to see or make contact with any of the Riff Raff, or as we lovingly call them Mr & Mrs America, Mom, Dad, Granma & Granpa or Plain old American Tax Payers.

 

 

 
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