THE GOVERNOR needs a new speech writer. He even advertised in newspapers for someone to prepare ''major speeches, remarks, talking points and other editorial material and publications.'' It's the chance of a lifetime!
Since William Donald Schaefer hates prepared speeches, won't deliver them as written and prefers to ad lib, this is a dream assignment. These texts will have an honored place in state archives, though nary a soul will hear them spoken. The ghost-writer can ''tell it like it is'' without fear of consequences -- the governor will toss away the prepared remarks anyway. Only historians will note their brilliance.
I wanted this job, but I missed the application deadline. In hopes that the governor will still give me a chance, I've composed a speech for Mr. Schaefer as a sample of my work. It's for a statewide television address by the governor. I portray him as folksy and down-to-earth, a blue-collar governor:
''My fellow Marylanders. It's time we had a heart-to-heart talk.
''I'm here in the comfy Governor's Mansion that my friend Hilda Mae so beautifully redecorated. She's quite an interior decorator, you know. Why she's even fixed up the governor's yacht. It's beautiful.
''I won't let her mess with my row house in Baltimore, though. Or my vacant town house in Anne Arundel County. That'll be my retirement project.
''Right now, I'm running for another term as your governor. Let me tell you about my first four years.
''This is a terribly frustrating job. Any time I want to do something, my 'friends' in the legislature stop me. Why, even my lieutenant governor is against me. Now he's objecting to our plan to raise more money for our campaign by using his name. How's that for gratitude?
''I've given you sound, honest government. I've also given the bureaucracy a good kick in the butt. Now state workers care when someone calls seeking help. They'd better, or I'll be on their case faster than you can say Harry Hughes.
''Recently, I issued a statement on the issue of abortion. I feel torn. I'd never have an abortion myself, but I don't feel comfortable dictating to others. I come down on the side of a woman's rights. This won't please everyone but at least I've taken a stand. And judging from the election returns, most of you agree with me.
''These are perilous financial times. As the recession deepens, Maryland's revenue picture grows gloomier. We could be $300 million in the hole faster than you can say Louie Goldstein. That makes me unhappy. And grumpy.
''We'll have to cut quality programs all over the state. We won't be able to reach out to needy Marylanders. My heart aches. But what's a governor to do in hard times?
''Yes, it's true that a few years ago we had a $400-million surplus. It's gone, but we didn't squander it, as my opponent charges. We used it to pay off the savings-and-loan debt. And we used it to build up our 'rainy day fund' to more than $125 million. That's our secret weapon to fight a really bad recession.
''We'll weather this recession because Maryland's economy is diverse and resilient. I've visited every part of this state -- unlike my predecessor -- and I can tell you people are hurting, but they are prepared to wait out the economic slump.
''Let me tell you what lies ahead if you let me stay in the Governor's Mansion. And I'll be candid. I'll raise the gasoline tax so we can improve our roads, get rid of this gridlock and start building a network of mass-transit lines.
''I'll seek to make the income tax graduated and broaden the sales tax. Then I'll use the extra money to turn our university system into the best in the East, improve our elementary and secondary schools and stimulate economic development to create more jobs.
''I'll use bond money for a state office tower in Baltimore because it will be far cheaper than renting space in private buildings. I'll get the Christopher Columbus Maritime Center off the ground and expand the city's Convention Center. And I hope to announce the National Football League is returning to Baltimore to play in a domed stadium.
''There's much, much more I want to accomplish. This will be my 'last hurrah' and I'll make the most of it. When I say 'do it now' in my second term, I won't be fooling.
''In the primary election, 100,000 of you cast ballots against me. I was puzzled. I thought I'd earned your trust. I guess you just don't understand what I'm trying to do.
''So I'll be all over your TV screens and the radio dial. I'll be issuing newsworthy statements so fast it'll make your head spin. No more Mr. Volunteerism. I'm becoming Mr. Democrat, and I won't tolerate cheap-shot broadsides from my Republican opponent. My new motto: '78 percent is not enough!'
''I'm fighting hard for your interests here in Annapolis. But it's an uphill battle. I need your help. Let me go out a winner. Remember, 'you'll be much safer voting for Don Schaefer!' ''