Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is taking fire from homosexual advocates over a joke he made suggesting people of San Francisco could be an endangered species and describing it as “probably good news.”
Gov. Jeb Bush
The Associated Press reports the humor came during a Florida Cabinet meeting yesterday during which leaders were discussing environmental land and habitats for endangered species. Bush was looking at a map reflecting locations of certain wildlife across the country.
“It looks like the people of San Francisco are an endangered species, which may not be a bad thing. That’s probably good news for the country,” he quipped, according to the AP.
The comment reportedly sparked laughter in the room, prompting Bush to add: “Did I just say that out loud?”
The humor was not lost on a spokesman for San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who also bust out laughing.
“‘I’m sure this is a tongue-in-cheek comment. I’d feel a little better if the governor would send me one of his alligators; I’ve got a supervisor that needs companionship,'” P.J. Johnston told the AP, adding that Bush’s remarks didn’t worry him.
“By and large San Franciscans have a good sense of humor and will not be dreadfully offended,” he said.
That sense of humor was witnessed by millions across the country last month when hundreds of unorthodox candidates added their names to the ballot in the election to recall California Gov. Gray Davis. Self-described “smut peddler” Larry Flynt won 17,446 votes and porn-movie star Mary Cook got 11,174 votes. Former child actor Gary Coleman picked up 14,235 votes.
But homosexual advocates suspect Bush’s remark was “anti-gay” because of the city’s large homosexual population and don’t consider it a laughing matter.
“It’s extremely insulting,” AP quotes Matt Foreman, the head of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, as saying. “But of course I would say that gay people in Florida are far more endangered than gay people in California.”
When confronted about the incident, Bush told reporters he was joking.
Bush spokesman Jacob DiPietre put the joke in a partisan politics context: “The Cabinet was talking about endangered species and everyone knows that Republicans are an endangered species in California.”
Johnston suggested people in politics should “lighten up.”