Florida blew its chance to help determine the presidency, but did win a fabulous booby prize: another starring role in many a late-night and Internet punch line.
Jon Stewart, host of the popular Daily Show, looked on the bright side Wednesday night, noting that unlike during the infamous 2000 Bush-Gore race, the entire nation wasn’t waiting on Florida to figure out who won.
“Here’s the good news: The election was decided without them,’’ Stewart said, drawing a rousing cheer from his studio audience. “For once, Florida’s clusterf---ery is irrelevant.’’
He also indelicately compared the state map to a flaccid male organ and, in another nod to the 2000 fiasco, noted the inherent problem of giving “a 10-page novelette state ballot to people who couldn’t handle a [expletive deleted] one-page butterfly ballot.’’
The jokes, naturally, didn’t play quite as well with South Florida elections officials and political leaders.
At a news conference Thursday, a local TV reporter asked Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley how she felt about the county being “the butt of a lot of jokes.’’
Townsley, weary-looking from three days of around-the-clock work, replied without a smile. “I can tell you that I am proud of Miami-Dade County and the way that we conduct elections. The incidents that occurred in this election are unfortunate. But the fact of the matter is, we will use those lessons to improve upon already a very good process.’’
A few other selected witticisms about Florida’s long lines, tardy tabulations and reputation for bungling:
Jimmy Kimmel: “President Obama defeated Mitt Romney last night. We know this for sure despite the fact that the returns from Florida still have not been counted. What goes on in Florida? They had four years to fix this. We need to make sure Florida never gets the Olympics.”
Craig Ferguson: “The long national nightmare is finally over. We have expressed our will at the polls. The results have been tallied and we proved once again that American democracy is alive and well — even if Florida was more confused than an old person with an iPhone.”
Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen also weighed in during an appearance Thursday on CBS This Morning. He blamed the long lines on Gov. Rick Scott’s refusal to extend early voting days, but also said the troubles were hardly a surprise in a state he called “a 24-hour freak show.’’
“We can’t seem to figure out how to count a ballot, and it could be years before we know how Florida went in this election,” he said.
Despite the national jokes, Hiaasen said Floridians were relieved that this time, the foul-ups were simply a sideshow.
“We’re just very, very grateful that the future of the republic did not depend on us,” he deadpanned.