It's really time to change the subject on the issue of slots

April 07, 2005|By DAN RODRICKS

HEY, YOU guys - Tony, Angie - help yourselves to the antipasto, then have a seat. Nice to see you guys. I'm glad all you guys could get here because we need to talk. Somebody we all know and like a lot, another guy - I'm worried about him.

Frankie, get me another J&B! Johnny, it's your deal.

Who am I talking about?

Paulie, you don't know? What's the matter with you?

I'm talking about Bobby.

Three years into being governor - first Republican governor since our ole pally, Ted Agnew - and Bobby's still pushing slot machines.

I mean, it's time to change the subject, for cryin' out loud!

It looks like the only thing he cares about, the only thing that floats his boat. It's like he came into office with that one and only goal in mind.

You know what the guy in the newspaper calls him? Bobby Slots!

Are one-eyed jacks wild?

I mean, you could have enlisted in the Army, gone through basic, been shipped over to Iraq, checked Saddam Hussein for head lice and come home in the time Bobby's been trying to make slots legal here.

Lots of people backed this guy. He's a young Republican in an old Democratic state, and he's had three chances now to prove himself in Annapolis - three General Assembly sessions - and he's blowing it!

I mean, Bobby Slots, politically speaking, is a thoroughbred, but he's turning into a one-trick pony.

Ha, ha. You like that, Charlie? You think that's funny?

It's not funny, Charlie! Shut up!

A guy can't build a long political career out of gambling!

But look what he keeps doing.

Just yesterday, Bobby goes all the way down to Chesapeake Beach to make another one of those photo opportunities, this one at the Rod & Reel Club, where they got video bingo machines, like fake slot machines. Bobby plays one of the machines and loses $25 that he borrowed from his aides. And he tells the reporters there that slots would be good for economic growth.

He thinks this is going to get the General Assembly to legalize slots in Maryland?

I don't get it.

I don't know why the guy's still puttin' his muscle into this.

Somebody's got to talk to him.

Steverino, there's a delicious pot roast on the stove. Put some on your plate.

Whose deal?

Have the salad too, Stevie. Eat up.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Bobby's playing video horse racing at the track in Laurel with Joey DeFrancis, a real dog-and-pony show for the media. Joey gives Bobby a $20 credit to play a horse on a machine, and he loses $15 on the first race, and that's, like, the end of it.

So, between the Laurel trip and the Chesapeake Beach trip yesterday, he's down $40.

How is this supposed to convince everyone that we should have slots?

I'm lookin' at this in the newspaper and I'm thinking: No wonder they call him Bobby Slots!

No. 1 rule of politics - OK, maybe not No. 1, maybe, like No. 2 - do not look ridiculous!

Anybody want an espresso? Nicky, get up and make an espresso for Angie and Tony.

So what am I saying?

I'm saying we got a problem. I'm saying our boy Bobby's a good guy, but he's so stuck on this slot machine thing - a real loser, and everybody knows it - that he's acting like one of those strung-out people you see at the casinos playing ... slots!

Little Mike, you want a cigar? Who's got my matches?

I mean, if you're going to push more gambling, push what we're playing - push poker.

What, are you kiddin'? This has got to be the fastest-growing game in America right now. It's old school but young people love to play.

It's hip. It's happening. It's on cable.

And it's not slots!

Pardon me, guys. I get a little excited about this.

I don't like to see the first Republican governor in more than 30 years getting a rep like this. I mean, at some point, the whole thing starts to look desperate and pathetic.

At some point, you got to start a new game. So, who wants to talk to Bobby about this? My deal. Paulie, pass the cannolis!

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