- Associated Press - Thursday, September 7, 2017

TALLAHASSSEE, Fla. (AP) - Two Floridians. Both well-known conservative voices in the Sunshine State. And yet vastly different reactions to the pending arrival of Hurricane Irma.

For the last three days, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has sounded the alarm about the dangerous Category 5 storm expected to strike this weekend, telling people they need to “leave now.” During that same period, Rush Limbaugh, the well-known talk radio host has complained about the hype attached to the storm, and has suggested that a “panic” caused by the hurricane benefits retailers, the media and politicians seeking action on climate change.

Scott, who himself has dodged questions about climate change by saying he’s not a “scientist,” said Wednesday that he had not heard Limbaugh’s comments.

But the Republican who first got elected during the 2010 tea party political wave wasn’t apologizing for the way he has described Irma.

“I’m not downplaying it, I believe it’s a risk,” Scott said on Wednesday.

Scott’s tone grew even more urgent a day later as the storm drew closer saying the storm itself was bigger than the state itself. Across Florida hundreds of thousands of residents have begun evacuating, which has clogged Florida’s highways.

Limbaugh, meanwhile, has ripped media coverage of his initial comments, saying he’s not a “hurricane denier” and that he been “smeared” by liberals upset by his point of view. Still he has continued to question some of the forecasts and pointed out that Hurricane Matthew was predicted to hit the state last year but most of it stayed offshore.

“They are the ones exaggerating,” Limbaugh said. “They are the ones using this destructive event, which is going to affect millions of people horribly. They are the ones using it to advance a political agenda, not me. And all I’m doing is pointing it out.”

Brian Burgess, who once worked for Scott as his communications director, contended there is no disconnect between the governor and the conservative commentator.

“Rush Limbaugh correctly pointed out there are many competing agendas involved with predicting the path of big storms, some that intentionally create fear in cases when there needn’t be any,” Burgess said. “But that doesn’t mean his comments are at odds with Governor Scott, they just have different jobs to do. Limbaugh’s job is to comment on media coverage, the governor’s job is to keep everyone in Florida safe from the approaching storm.”

Well, for the next few days, however, the only comments on the airwaves will be coming from Scott.

Limbaugh announced Thursday that he would not be on the air until next Monday and it would be from “parts unknown.”

The reason? Limbaugh, who lives in Palm Beach County, said it would be “legally impossible” to broadcast from his normal studio because the area is being evacuated due to the hurricane. He said that his plans had been “blown to smithereens.”

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