(This classic Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, October 16, 1983)
I was nervous about interviewing the governor of Florida. Usually when reporters interview the governor, they ask questions that reveal a detailed knowledge of the issues:
REPORTER: Governor, on Feb. 9 at approximately 3:40 p.m., you indicated that you support the issuance of 6.74 per cent deeds of accrual for the proposed 427.71-square-mile Mucklands Natural Wildlife Preserve, home of the tusk shell, or scaphopoda, a class of mullusk that dwells to depths of 5,000 meters and captures its prey with filamentous tentacles?
GOVERNOR (approvingly): That is correct.
I don't know much about the issues in Florida. I live in Pennsylvania, and until a few days before the interview, I didn't know the Florida governor's name. I considered making that my first question:
ME: What is your name?
ME (probing): Bob what?
Well it turns out I needn't have worried about the issues, as you'll see when you read this transcript of the interview I had with Gov. Bob Graham in his office in Tallahassee. Every word of it, so help me, is true. I have condensed it some for space and clarity.
BARRY: Why does Florida need both a Senate and a House?
GRAHAM: Well, because if we had only one, they could probably get their work done in about three point one seven eight days per year, and there are scores of people whose living depends on their being up here for 90 days. It's actually a form of an employment plan.
BARRY: I've been asking the working people of Florida if they have questions for you, and I have a question here from a working person in Miami named Ray Bubel, who....
GRAHAM: What does Ray do?
BARRY: He works for Tropic.
GRAHAM (into tape recorder) Hello, Ray, glad to see you there.
BARRY: Ray wants to know what you're going to do to lower taxes, and I don't think he's talking about everyone here. I think he's talking about Ray's taxes.
GRAHAM: We're going to raise Dave's taxes, so he can pay more of yours, Ray. I mean, you can see that Dave can certainly afford it. Look, he comes here with this chi-chi Swiss-Italian suit....
BARRY: Look at this. This is right off the rack from Gimbel's.
GRAHAM: Yeah, probably came right over from Santa Margarita....
BARRY: A man gets on the best-dressed list, and he becomes insufferable. (NOTE: Graham recently made a list of the 10 best- dressed men in America.) Do you realize what kind of limp- wristed people put people on the....
GRAHAM: I'm the only person who ever made it using only one tie. (He shows his Florida tie.)
BARRY: What can the state do about harmonica safety? I don't know if you have any idea how many Floridians die every year in harmonica accidents....
GRAHAM: Well last year we actually made some substantial improvement. In 1981, there were four people who died of harmonica accidents. Now actually, I think it's only fair to count three of them, because the fourth one was actually, I would say it was more of a swimming-pool accident. He was playing the harmonica in the swimming pool and actually jumped off the shallow end, hit his head, and we don't know whether it was the fact that he swallowed the harmonica, or the brain damage. They counted it as a harmonica accident. Now, this year, or 1982, the last year for which we have statistics, we only had two harmonica accidents. I think it was the result of the public-service ads that I did....