Speaking with “CNN This Morning” anchors Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow Wednesday about his new novel “Swamp Story,” Floridian writer Dave Barry took the opportunity to “praise” Florida governor Ron DeSantis for “tackling the biggest threat to the American way of life: Disney.”
“Donald Duck is not wearing pants, that doesn’t bother you?” he said, interrogating the two co-anchors. The Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist and journalist hosted said interrogation in jest, and even got Collins to retell one of President Joe Biden’s Correspondents Dinner jokes at DeSantis’ expense.
Opening the discussion by asking Barry how he feels about the heightened scrutiny surrounding Florida’s legislature at the national level, Harlow said that DeSantis continues to roll out policy that “everyone’s been talking about.”
“I just wanna say, we have a lot of criticism for Gov. DeSantis, but he is, and I speak as a Floridian here, tackling the single biggest threat as we see it to the American way of life: Disney,” Barry riffed, earning chuckles from the co-anchors. The joke was, of course, in reference to the embattled governor’s continued legal quarrel with Disney CEO Bob Iger and co., which most recently led to a countersuit from a DeSantis-appointed board.
“I mean, that’s what we worry about,” he said.
“Mickey Mouse is your biggest concern,” Harlow said, playing along. “Not climate change, not the erosion of your –“
“No, Donald Duck is not wearing pants,” Barry said. “That doesn’t bother you?”
He then went on a bit that compared the “corrupt, incompetent government” of Florida with the “corrupt, incompetent government” of New York, where he joined the “CNN This Morning” team.
“Everybody likes to make fun of Florida. We’re used to that. And I’m not saying we have a great government, OK? Maybe we have a corrupt, incompetent government, but we’re paying very little taxes for it,” he said. “Here in New York, you have a corrupt and incompetent government — and you’re paying a fortune. We are getting a better deal!”
Harlow then tried reining Barry in, asking “genuinely” if it bothered him “as a Florida resident to see the governor using” his gubernatorial powers in a hypothetical bid for president.
“Even some Republicans in the state legislature said, ‘OK, it’s very clear we’re doing a lot of this to set him up for what could be a presidential run,'” she said. “I don’t think it’s unusual for a politician to use his office for something like this, but what do you think of it as a citizen?”
“I think we kind of lost the guy,” he responded. “I mean, I’ll be honest, there was a time, that time was the beginning of COVID, when Floridians really liked what he was doing because he was basically trying to keep the state open, keep the schools open. He was quicker to do that than a lot of other states and everybody liked that about that. I can’t speak for the whole state, but I think everybody’s kind of tired of the whole ‘culture war,’ and if he’s gonna run for president, run for president on his own time, on his own dime.”
Then, back to joking, Barry added: “And I speak for everyone when I say this.”
Watch the full “CNN This Morning” interview in the video above.