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Jon Stewart mocks Rick Scott's noncitizen voter purge; Scott all smiles

TAMPA -- Gov. Rick Scott said he developed a thick skin since running for office for the first time in 2010.

"The newspapers don't always agree with everything you do," Scott told about 270 attendees of a conference for the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants at the Tampa Convention Center this morning.

But it wasn't a newspaper that compared the governor to Peter Garrett, the former lead singer to the Austrailian rock band Midnight Oil. Or noted his likeness to Carel Struycken, the actor who played the mysterious giant in David Lynch's Twin Peaks.

That would have been Jon Stewart on the Daily Show in a piece that aired Tuesday night lampooning Scott's efforts to purge the voter rolls of non-citizens. It was the same show that challenged Scott to give a urine sample after Scott announced he wanted welfare recipients to take a drug test.

“Every now and again, a politician comes along who is just truly terrible and really deserving of more scorn than even we can dole out in our nightly 21-minute, 30-second wise-ass-athon,” Stewart said.

After his speech, Scott said he didn't watch the show.

"Somebody said there was something about me on there," he said.

He then joked that the show "completely supported my position that non-U.S. citizens shouldn't vote in our races."

Not exactly. But Scott did enough of that during his talk Wednesday to the CPAs. Two days after Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said the Department of Justice will sue Florida over its noncitizen voter purge, Scott said the legal costs will be justified.

"People have died for the right to vote," Scott said. "We have fought wars for the right to vote. It's very important that your vote doesn't get diluted...I have to defend the rights of voters. I have no choice."

He said a small sample from a state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles database showed that 100 people registered to vote weren't citizens, and that 50 of those voted. On Tuesday, Florida's former secretary of state, Kurt Browning, told the Miami Herald, that he believed that database had too many errors and refused to release it.

Scott, however, stands by the veracity of the database and said he will fight the federal government in court.

"I got elected to hold government accountable and defend your right," Scott said.

-- Michael Van Sickler, Times staff writer