If you’re a Dennis Miller fan — and I qualify — you had to be disappointed with his interview of Gov. Jeb Bush last week on the comedian’s new CNBC show.
Miller is acerbic, quick and topical. He cares about current events. But the post September 11 Miller is more of a political partisan. He has morphed into a Fox-like conservative on national defense — and is a staunchly outspoken defender of President George W. Bush.
As a result, Miller served up some deferential asides disguised as questions to the president’s brother — after beginning with a befuddling note about a cockfighting bust in Hendry County. It was a Saturday Night Live “Weekend Update”-type reference in futile search of a punch line.
Gov. Jeb looked properly quizzical at the Hendry County comment, but then had a chance to tee off on the Miller Light softballs. When your state is juxtaposed to California’s “Bataan death march to socialism,” you know you’ve got the high ground. And an opening to remind whoever needs reminding that Florida’s “guiding principle” is to “try to make government grow slower than people’s income.” If nothing else, it was better than Johnnie Byrd’s well-worn sound bites on fiscal restraint.
Overall, the governor was able to tout his spin on educational accountability, fiscal conservatism, in-state job growth and even Everglades’ stewardship. Everything went unchallenged unless you count: “You mean you paid to keep up a swamp?” Gov. Jeb also managed a dig at John Kerry and a nice plug for his brother’s tax cuts, which are, he stressed, especially helpful to small businesses — of which Florida has a bunch.
The governor, who doesn’t do many national interviews, got what he wanted out of the exposure. Good for him; he’s a consummately glib politician with a brother running for re-election to the presidency.
As for Miller, he ostensibly got what he wanted as well. And that’s too bad. He’s a lot more entertaining being irreverent — not reverential.