Florida is the craziest state in the union. Although there's no universally agreed upon criteria for this distinction, Americans know this almost instinctively. For their part, Floridians have mostly accepted this fact. Mostly. That's because during an unusually entertaining meeting of the House Rules Committee, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) made a statement to Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) that while true, sounds downright bizarre coming out of a guy from Florida.
“I don’t know about in your state [of Texas], which I think is a crazy state to begin with — and I mean that just as I said it."
This did not sit well with Burgess, who attempted to interrupt Hastings. “The gentleman made a very defamatory statement about my state," he said, "and I will not stand here and listen to it.”
Hastings was unmoved: “You can leave if you choose. I told you what I think about Texas. I wouldn’t live there for all the tea in China, and that’s how I feel.”
After Burgess asked for an apology, Hastings told him he'd be waiting for one "until hell freezes over."
The exchange is hilarious for a few reasons. First, although testy exchanges during committee meetings are hardly rare, it's quite uncommon for a lawmaker to flat-out trash another's state in wholesale.
Second, despite taking umbrage at his state being called crazy, Burgess himself would be implicated in the accusation. Recall that he's the guy who during a Rules Committee meeting in 2013, defended a GOP-sponsored "fetal pain" bill because, he claimed,
"Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful. They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to think that they could feel pain?"
That's right. Burgess opposes abortion because fetuses supposedly masturbate.
Third, the committee vice chair overseeing the meeting, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), had no idea how to maintain order or even know who to even recognize during the exchange, despite the fact she's second-in-command on the Rules Committee, whose raison d'être is to set the rules of debate for bills that go to the floor.
Fourth, to reiterate, Florida is the craziest state in the union, and not even 20 years of George W. Bush and Rick Perry in the Texas governor's mansion could seriously threaten that status, especially when Florida has so far endured 12 years of Jeb Bush and Rick Scott. From Ted Bundy's trials, to the 2000 presidential election, to George Zimmerman, to Casey Anthony, to Terri Schiavo, to Elian Gonzalez, to the accidental banning of all computers in the state, to the Florida Man twitter account, Florida is the craziest state in the country.
And if you don't believe me, just check out this Florida travel brochure.