Lines of force, lines of farce

DAN RODRICKS

December 30, 1991|By Dan Rodricks

Great lines, punch lines, fabulous oratory and unforgettable yammerings -- the best we heard in 1991. . . .

* Sen. Barbara Mikulski, on the Senate floor in June: "I happen to like billboards. I like billboards a lot . . . I have not found billboards to be polluters. They are not a hazardous substance; they are not a toxic substance. I am sure billboards are even recyclable. They do not make noise. They do not end up as a Superfund site; they do not give off emissions; they do not pollute the bay; they do not pollute Baltimore; they do not pollute Maryland. I do not know how they pollute."

* Bumper sticker, spotted several times on Jones Falls Expressway: "Go ahead, hit me. My daughter's a lawyer."

* It was Turn-Back-The-Clock Day at Memorial Stadium and, as our gang checked out the crowd, someone pointed to a well-known Baltimore mortician seated behind the Oriole dugout. "Oh, yeah," said Baseball Billie Jones, long-time season ticket-holder. "They've got a box here." To which Turkey Joe Trabert replied: "Yeah? Does it have a lid and gold handles?"

* Defense attorney Raphael Santini, questioning a medical examiner in Baltimore Circuit Court in March: "Now, doctor, besides the [six] bullets, were there any other distinguishing features on the body?"

* William Donald Schaefer, in his second inaugural address, delivered Jan. 16 in Annapolis: "I'm still the guy who likes to shop and compete with the women when there's a sale going on."

* WDS, two weeks later, to a cluster of Eastern Shore delegates and senators: "How's that s - - - house of an Eastern Shore?"

* WDS, about a week later: "My mind's as clear as it's ever been."

* WDS, on his unabashed loyalty to the state: "I'm the guy who is 'up' on Maryland, so that no hat or costume is too silly to wear to promote this state."

* Headline in April edition of the Star, national supermarket rag, accompanying story on WDS: "Wackiest Governor in America."

* WDS, a few days later: "I'm not going to wear funny hats anymore."

* WDS, asked by a caller to the "Larry King Show" if he would consider running again for his old job as mayor of Baltimore: "I'm running for president."

* Baltimore cop describing a man who had stuffed 21 pigeons down his pants: "He looked like the Michelin tire man."

* Rep. Helen D. Bentley, after the outbreak of war in the Persian Gulf: "They've got to get rid of Saddam Hussein. He's got to go, regardless, because as long as he's left we're going to have problems that keep coming back. . . . What we really need to do is turn the Israelis loose on him so they'll get him out of the way."

* Bentley, after American planes bombed what Iraq said was a civilian defense shelter and the Bush administration said was a military facility: "All of these people are apologizing. I'm sorry, civilians will get hurt in a war. But I'm not going to apologize for that."

* If you saw Joe Pesci in "GoodFellas" in 1990, you'll understand what we had in 1991 when Dominic "Crowbar" Carozza decided to testify in his own defense during his murder trial in Baltimore Circuit Court. Crowbar could not contain himself. The little hot-head did the defense more harm than good. To Judge Hilary D. Caplan, he said: "Your problem is you're God." Describing his relationship with one Marsha Hammons: "I never hit Marsha with a pipe. Read my lips. I never hit Marsha." And giving his philosophy on people who don't repay their loans: "If you take something out of a drawer that don't belong to you, and you close that drawer without putting it back, the next time you open that drawer, it ain't gonna be there." Duh.

* The Baltimore mayor's lame re-election jingle had to be the worst ever recorded: "Get on board with Schmoke -- toot! toot! -- the Schmoke progress tr-a-a-a-y-N!"

* Author Tom Clancy, making a pitch to become owner of an NFL franchise here, on how the game should be played: "It should be played in the mud and the blood the way real men do it. I never did it that way, because I was a nerd." Was?

* Suggested motto for give-away T-shirts should Boogie Weinglass become owner of either Orioles or new NFL franchise: "I'm a close, personal friend of Barry Levinson."

* Sign seen briefly on Baltimore-Washington Parkway, with spray-painted addendum: "Welcome To Baltimore, Hon."

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