Brent Batten: So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly...

BRENT BATTEN

Someone has got to be scripting this.

One day, Naples is deemed the “Beverly Hills of the East” by the Washington Post.

The next, a backwards bumpkin bearing a striking resemblance to Jed Clampett announces he may move his clan to Southwest Florida.

We all know Hollywood hasn’t had an original thought in 20 years and the idea du jour is to shamelessly resurrect the classics of a simpler time.

So if pastor Terry Jones brings his Christian Dove World Outreach Center to Lee County, there can be little doubt a film crew will be close behind to begin work on “The Beverly Hills of the East Billies.”

Somewhere in Tinseltown an aspiring composer is already working on the theme song.

Come listen to my story of a preacher man,

He wasn’t known for much ‘cept for burnin’ the Quran.

Then one day he was shootin’ off his mouth,

“If Gainesville doesn’t want us, We’ll move on down south.”

Fort Myers that is. Swimmin’ pools, royal palms.

In the first installment we find pastor Jones’ son, Luke, cipherin’ how many Qurans it would take to fill the cement pond for a bonfire.

The entire 30-member congregation bustles around as a sort of extended family, cookin’ up possum vittles, makin’ lye soap and distillin’ “recipe.”

A staple of the sitcom genre is the long-suffering neighbor and in The Beverly Hills of the East Billies, the role is ably filled by Mohamed Al-Darsani of Lee County’s Islamic Center for Peace. He correctly notes that Jones has a right to move anywhere in the U.S. and practice his religion.

Al-Darsani’s preferred approach is to seek dialogue and understanding with Jones and his followers. Dialogue with a guy who wouldn’t listen to his own country’s military leaders when they told him his Dark Age gesture against Islam would make their job in places like Afghanistan and Iraq more difficult. Fire up the laugh track.

Turns out they were right, as seven U.N. workers and five other people were killed in April of this year as an angry mob in Afghanistan reacted to the Christian Dove World Outreach Center’s burning of a Quran. Oops.

Hilarity ensues when the local establishment encounters these newcomers.

In Gainesville, police and sheriff’s officials estimate just one of Jones’ episodes, his September, 2010 threat to burn 200 Qurans, provided $200,000 worth of comedy to taxpayers there. At least that’s the amount they sought to bill him for the extra security they had to roll out for the event. You don’t need a sixth-grade education or have a complete mastery of the gazintas to reckon that’s an expense law enforcement agencies don’t need.

You’d have to be a double-naught spy to know what hijinx Jones might bring to Lee County but Sheriff Mike Scott and his deputies will no doubt relish the opportunity to act as extras in whatever dim-witted scheme Jones cooks up.

The very name Christian Dove World Outreach Center is funny.

Christian? Wasn’t it Jesus who said, “Judge not lest you be judged,” and “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Dove? The symbol of peace used by a rabble rouser intent on fomenting discord?

World? With a few dozen members in one out-of-the-way ministry?

Outreach? Like reaching out and kicking someone in the knee?

Center? Of what, a tiny, closed universe?

Good stuff.

Jones is said to be considering Tampa and Sarasota, along with Lee County, as his church’s new home. Whoever is scripting this please note: From Southwest Florida’s perspective, those markets would make a much better backdrop for this show.

Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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