Gov. Rick Scott Attempts to Show Inner Charlie Crist

Rick Scott walks into the Floridian diner on Las Olas about noon today for a photo-op lunch with South Florida lawmakers. There's an odd funk in the air, sort of a mix between French fries and kitty litter.

He walks halfway through the main dining room, its walls plastered with framed photos, mostly Marilyn Monroe and other various pinups. He stops in front of a reporter and asks if she'd like a photo with him. Behind him is a framed collage of asses. No, the reporter says, 

and Scott moves on to a room painted a mossy green.

Here, the dining tables form an outward-facing U-shape. A handful of state lawmakers -- nowhere near the full-blown legislative delegation the news release advertised -- eventually find a seat at the table.

"My goal is basically to hear from y'all," Gov. Rick Scott tells them.

The small talk doesn't go on for long before Democratic state Sen. Eleanor Sobel asks the governor what he could have possibly been thinking when ending water-quality testing at beaches across the state.

A waitress takes their orders. Scott asks for just ice water. The checks are separate.

Democratic State Rep. Joe Gibbons says the GOP spent way too much time on ideological lawmaking and zero on jobs. Republican Rep. Bill Hagersaid lowering the corporate income tax has everything to do with jobs. "Call up Texas," he says. "Call up Texas." A brief spar ensues, during which Scott briefly steps into the fray to interject that nearly 86,000 jobs have been created in Florida since he took office.

When education comes up, Sobel tells Scott schools can't measure student progress solely through standardized tests, to which he awkwardly replies, "I want everybody to get jobs."
This spurs another brief spar between Gibbons and Hager.

Scott press secretary Amy Graham leads reporters outside onto the sidewalk, where the governor actually talks to the media. He answers a few questions on his jobs claims. And he explains why he skipped lunch: "Well, you know, if you're talking, you don't have time. And I hate it because, you know, you're in the middle of a meal and you're talking," he said.

Asked whether today's lunch is just an effort to revamp his Mr. Burnsesque image, he says, "You know, I started doing this right when I got elected."

Shortly thereafter, he hops back into a black SUV.

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Kate Bradshaw