Ehrlich gets the last laugh at Follies

THE POLITICAL GAME

Jokes: The governor gave as good as he got at the Maryland lawmakers' annual revue.

April 01, 2003|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

AFTER A year's hiatus, the Legislative Follies returned to Annapolis last week, with a cast of giddy and slightly inebriated lawmakers filtering onto the auditorium stage at St. John's College for a mix of songs, skits and off-color jokes.

Written by Sen. John A. Giannetti Jr. and Dels. Robert A. Zirkin, Alfred W. Redmer Jr., Herbert H. McMillan, Eric M. Bromwell, Jon S. Cardin and Samuel I. Rosenberg, the script poked fun at the state's top political figures.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s mannerisms and speech patterns were mimicked in a dead-on impersonation by Bromwell.

"Michael Steele, I love this guy. Have you ever seen a better-looking man?" said Bromwell, portraying the governor during a mock State of the State address. "Michael Steele. Great guy. Smart guy. Attractive guy. Nonathlete. Fencer. A lot of snow. We had a lot of snow, folks. And this is serious business, especially in Arbutus."

In Del. Kumar P. Barve's top 10 list of reasons why Ehrlich hates being governor, he included "The Hilda Mae fountain still smells like urine" and "He was told there would be no math on the job."

At the end of the show, Ehrlich -- who attended the follies with his wife -- took to the stage for his own top 10 list of things he's learned on the job. "In Washington, Republican governors were hugged by their speaker. In Maryland, Republican governors are mugged by their speaker," he said.

Ehrlich added: "What's wrong with this picture: Lieutenant Governor Steele has the Jefferson office, and I have Spiro Agnew's?"

Budgetary battle of wits is on with vying slogans

Not only do the House and Senate have competing budgets, their negotiators have competing slogans about how bad Maryland's finances are. They've encapsulated those slogans onto lapel buttons.

The House pins borrow a statement from Del. Howard P. Rawlings, chairman of the Appropriations Committee: "Folks, we got big problems here."

The Senate buttons contain the phrase: "The first step toward fiscal recovery is to admit you have a problem."

Some legislative staffers are wearing both.

Relations seem to be in need of doctoring

When the Ehrlich administration moved to intervene last week in a dispute over how the state should discipline doctors, it may have made more enemies than it bargained for.

Kenneth Masters, the governor's top legislative liaison, approached an aide to House Speaker Michael E. Busch outside the speaker's office.

With a reporter within earshot, Masters told the aide the administration wanted to work with House Environmental Matters Committee Chairman John Adams Hurson to see that disciplining doctors wasn't handed to the state Health Department.

"John Hurson is way more sensible than his Senate counterpart," Masters said, explaining that Sen. Paula C. Hollinger took the issue too personally, while Hurson was more "detached."

Hurson, a Montgomery County Democrat, said later that Masters had misread him.

"I am as unreasonable on this topic as she is," Hurson said.

Told of Masters' comment, Hollinger, a Baltimore County Democrat and chairwoman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, said, "I'm going to have to have a little talk with him."

Ehrlich catches baseball up close on Opening Day

Opening Day for the Orioles yesterday offered Ehrlich the chance to enjoy one of those perks of the job that he seems to love so much -- being on the field for the first pitch.

But the former Gilman School catcher didn't do any throwing. Instead, he caught the ball thrown by Eddie Murray, the former Oriole great who is to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer.

For the record, Ehrlich's performance was flawless.

Sun staff writer Michael Dresser contributed to this article.

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