I spent last week with my extended family at the Carolina coast where we boiled shrimp, caught fish and played cards.

I don’t tell you that because I expect you to care (after all, I didn’t invite any of you along) but to explain that I took a break from the Florida news cycle in which I’m normally enveloped. I checked the headlines only once each morning to see what was going on. And with a bit of distance and perspective, I was reminded of something I think many of us full-time Floridians sometimes forget:

This state’s news cycle is nuts.

It is non-stop, full-tilt and rabidly divisive.

Here’s a look at just a few of the Florida headlines that the rest of the world saw last week.

“Protesters wave Nazi flags outside Disney World entrance”

“DeSantis wants Confederate general’s name restored to Army base”

“College board rejects Florida ban on LGBTQ+ topics in AP classes”

“Ron DeSantis fumes about Pride flag at White House”

This state’s daily news cycle is basically a full-frontal assault on the senses. And it’s worth noting that it’s not normal. It’s not how the rest of America lives, nor how it used to be in the Sunshine State. Florida used to pride itself on weird and wacky. But lately, it’s just ugly. And it’s often about pitting Floridians against each other.

Now let’s run through some recent headlines.

The fake ad

Gov. Ron DeSantis got caught releasing a campaign ad with fake, computer-generated images of Donald Trump.

The ad appeared to show Trump hugging and embracing Dr. Anthony Fauci. But, as Twitter noted in a disclaimer, the photos “showing Trump embracing Fauci are AI generated images,” marking one of the first times a major presidential campaign has been caught using technology to tell lies.

Republicans were among the most outraged with U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance tweeting: “Smearing Donald Trump with fake AI images is completely unacceptable.”

There is, of course, the irony/hypocrisy of these images coming from a guy who complains about “fake news.” But most remarkable was Team DeSantis’ complete lack of contrition after being caught. Instead, his campaign team shared obvious parodies from other politicians — like one of DeSantis riding a rhinoceros — in an attempt to suggest everyone tells the kind of fake-photo lies they had.

The campaign’s response was so blatantly unapologetic that the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake said DeSantis had crossed a new Rubicon, ushering in  America’s “fake-images-in-politics nightmare.”

Frost’s F-bomb

Then there was freshman Congressman Maxwell Alejandro Frost’s F-bomb heard ‘round the world. Everyone from “Rolling Stone” to London’s “Independent” rushed to tell their readers about how the youngest congressman in America took to a concert stage and declared: “F*** Ron DeSantis! F*** fascism!”

Many of the reactions were predictably partisan. Conservatives who thought the “F*** Joe Biden”/”Let’s Go Brandon” chant was a hoot-and-a-half clutched their pearls and demanded apologies. Meanwhile, hardcore lefties who’d been repulsed by the Brandon/Biden vulgarities cheered a politician they liked, directing an F-bomb at one they didn’t.

In fact, when the Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board argued last week that Frost risked undermining his credibility as a thoughtful, serious voice that the board stressed it believes he is, many liberals went bananas. Reactions ranged from “The Orlando Sentinel supports Nazis and fascists” to “F*** right off.”

This is how hyperpartisanship rots the brain. It shouldn’t be a radical concept to understand how some could both like Maxwell Frost and think he can find more effective ways to make his voice heard.

In fact, I was particularly taken by the letter from Sentinel reader Karin Figueroa who said she agreed with the ed board’s distaste for public profanity but also chastised the media in general for focusing too much on incidents like this one and not enough on the serious policy proposals and actions undertaken by Frost and others. Touché.

Doctor shortage

The CBS Evening News aired a piece Monday about the shortage of OB-GYN doctors in America — particularly in states that have clamped down on abortion access.

The gist of the piece: Many aspiring doctors don’t want to work in states where politicians seem eager to arrest or imprison members of their profession. And the featured anecdote in the CBS piece was a student at UCF’s med school who said she can’t envision staying in Florida to practice after she’s completed her education here.

Change of heart

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about a private Catholic school in St. Petersburg that responded to the state’s new vouchers-for-all program by jacking up its tuition price to a level where vouchers alone wouldn’t cover the costs to attend.

Many people were appalled — including, apparently, some of the school’s own families. A follow-up piece in the Tampa Bay Times last week revealed that the school reversed its decision and decided to keep costs down. I doubt that will be the case everywhere.

The voucher school cash grab is on. Look for rising tuition prices | Commentary

Radioactive roads

The Times also unearthed something interesting about the controversial “radioactive roads” bill meant to potentially allow a mildly radioactive byproduct of phosphate mining to be used in road construction:

The phosphate mining company lobbying for the bill, Mosaic, spent $25,000 on a fundraiser for the bill’s House sponsor, Travis McClure, R-Plant City … who said that was just a coincidence.

The last word

It seems appropriate to end a column about political division, distractions and profanity with this recent quote from comedienne Wanda Sykes:

“Until a drag queen walks into a school and beats eight kids to death with a copy of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, I think you’re focusing on the wrong sh*t.”