Florida columnist and novelist Date (Deep Water, 2001, etc.) sends up the Bush election as two brothers vie to govern the state that gave us—well—Carl Hiaasen.
Republicans aren’t just the bad guys, they’re the only guys in a gubernatorial election pitting Byron “Bub” Billings, the amiable, lawn-furniture manufacturing, cheerfully uninformed older son of a beloved governor against a weak democrat. The party turned to Bub after the much stronger candidate Spencer Tolliver, fishing alone, followed a catch to the bottom of the sound. But Bub is a great candidate. Voters love the way he grins when he has to admit ignorance—which is pretty dang often—and he’s such a nice guy. In the background seething with jealousy is Bub’s younger brother Percy, a policy wonk who studied when Bub was cutting classes to party but whom the late governor never much cottoned to. Percy is, alas, charmless. But he becomes the candidate when Bub falls overboard from the Republican party, party, party yacht, Soft Money, and is declared drowned. Not in the least dead, Bub is rescued hours later by political consultant Murphy Moran, who’d been sailing nearby hoping to snap a candid of Bub surrounded by the frisky, nearly nude campaign workers on Soft Money. The waterlogged Bub presents two surprises to the cynical Moran: he’s truly likable, and he’s pretty sure he was pushed. As Murphy and Bub bob about, Murphy’s fax begins to spit tons of incriminating papers from GOP campaign HQ, where comely accountant Antoinette “Toni” Johnson has had it up to here with the sleaze orchestrated by party honcho Farber LaGrange. Murphy and Bub piece together the plot that sent Spencer Tolliver to the drink and Bub overboard. Percy’s move into Bub’s shoes, an action declared constitutional by lethally nippled Secretary of State Clarissa Highstreet, was no accident.
Over the top doesn’t always mean hilarious.