TALLAHASSEE — You know you’re living in a weird state when the governor promotes a pay-per-minute sex chat line.
Or when a congressman asks the House speaker to move a day’s worth of votes so he can watch a college football game.
Or when employees at not just one, not two, but three state prisons use stun guns on their kids as part of “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.”
That’s Florida, once again making people snicker at its dumb criminals, strange animals and all-around oddness.
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Gov. Charlie Crist was embarrassed when an on-hold recording he made transposed two numbers for an uninsured child helpline and callers instead were led to “horny” girls willing to talk about anything for just $2.99 a minute.
It wasn’t the only odd moment in politics. Rep. Cliff Stearns asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi to basically shut down Congress early so he and some of the Florida and Oklahoma House guys could go watch their teams in the national championship game. She said no.
Candidates for local offices were also embarrassed in 2009. A Miami Beach mayoral candidate was disqualified from the race after his qualifying check bounced, and a minister running for Belle Glade City Commission was charged with swinging a bat at a woman outside a polling place. He lost the election.
Two 8-year-old Alachua County boys made better use of their baseball bats — they successfully fought off a man armed with a gun who was threatening to kill the mother of one of the boys.
Among other parents and children making odd news, a North Miami woman has arrested after leaving her 2- and 14-year-old grandchildren in the car while she went into a casino to gamble, and Hillsborough County deputies charged a 21-year-old Tampa woman with leaving her 4-month-old son in a hot car while she burglarized a home.
At least a Stuart woman had the commonsense not to leave her kids in the car during her crime spree. She stayed in the car with her 2- and 5-year-old children while acting as a getaway driver during two armed robberies.
Alcohol seems to lead to a lot of Florida’s oddest stories.
Tampa police arrested a man who let his 12-year-old son drive his SUV so he could drink in the passenger seat.
A Marion County man was charged with driving under the influence after crashing a stolen riding lawnmower into a school bus.
A 22-year-old South Florida man climbed aboard a locomotive with a friend and took it seven miles down the tracks for a joy ride. They came up with the idea while heading to a local bar.
A Clearwater man was charged with drunk driving after police pulled him over for driving a car with only three tires.
Pasco County deputies arrested two men they said were fighting over $3 in gas money on the way home from a strip club. The weapons involved: a fish tank and a beer bottle.
A Bay County man arrested for shoplifting had a request for deputies: let him drink the beer he stole. He became combative when they refused.
A Marion County deputy pulled over a naked man riding a motorcycle. Turns out the cyclist was drunk.
He was one of many naked people in the news.
A naked 21-year-old man covered in feces was arrested in Martin County after jumping into a neighbor’s pool. A Clearwater woman knocked on a stranger’s door in the middle of the night asking for cigarettes. She was naked.
A naked 91-year-old Lake Worth man held a 26-year-old burglar at gunpoint until police arrived.
Another burglar trying to rob an elderly man wasn’t so lucky. The 24-year-old broke in to a Liberty County home waving a toy gun and was shot and killed by an 82-year-old homeowner with the real thing.
A Fort Pierce man was charged with stealing $22 worth of aluminum cans from a scrap yard and then returning the next day to try to sell them back. A man tried stealing a live ferret in Jacksonville Beach by stuffing it down his pants. A Dade City man was charged with stealing 19 packages of deodorant to pay off a drug debt.
Usually this works in reverse, but a man was caught trying to break INTO the Brevard County jail he was released from the week before.
Two men wandering through a Deltona neighborhood asked a deputy for a ride home. The deputy said sure, but only after he could search them. They said sure, and the deputy found cell phones, GPS devices and a box of strawberry-flavored Pop Tarts stolen from neighborhood cars.
Crime and food intersected a few times in Florida this past year. Volusia County authorities arrested a 19-year-old after his mother said he threw a taco at her for unplugging his video game system. A Dunnellon woman was arrested after allegedly hitting a man in the head with a raw steak after he refused a piece of sliced bread. A Gainesville father was arrested for hitting his daughter with a pizza slice when she wouldn’t turn off a computer. A Port St. Lucie man was arrested for rubbing a hamburger in his wife’s face after she poured a soda on it.
A Palm Beach pizza shop owner was charged with pistol-whipping two men who complained about their calzone.
Reptiles in the news included a 5-foot alligator that escaped during a Panama City elementary school’s show-and-tell. A Land O’Lakes man was bit on the hand when he reached under his car for his dog and found an alligator instead.
Wildlife officers found two alligators being held captive in a Tallahassee apartment. They also found drugs out in plain view after the tenants let them in.
Another house call made by wildlife officers turned up the body of a black bear struck and killed on Interstate 4. Two men retrieved the roadkill, took it home and butchered it.
Two men carried a 6-foot shark around Miami and tried selling it to fish markets. After they failed, they left it lying in the middle of a downtown street.
A Tampa police officer used a Taser to subdue a pit pill that chased a chicken into a woman’s home. A Mossy Head woman trying to corral an emu was flown to a hospital after the giant flightless bird clawed her.
A Martin County man accused of downloading child pornography blamed the crime on a cat jumping on his computer keyboard.