Seems like that Oprah just can't take a hint

April 27, 2006|By DAN RODRICKS

While at The Meyerhoff to raise money for a private school, Oprah Winfrey blasted Baltimore public schools and said she had considered - but decided against - contributing some of her millions to the system. So, I suggested Oprah throw $4.2 million toward the Children's Scholarship Fund, which gives partial scholarships so that needy Baltimore families can send their children to an independent or parochial school of their choosing. The $4.2 million would take care of all 2,100 families on the foundation's waiting list. We checked with CSF yesterday to see if Oprah had taken our suggestion: Still no dough from O.

Ken Lay's defense in the Enron fraud case in Houston must be costing him a small fortune. He has six lawyers and at least two wives there.

This summer, you can save gas money and still go to the islands for vacation - Hart-Miller, Poole's, and Gibson (if you know somebody who has the key).

Here's another solution, if you're in Harford County: Go to the Enroy station on Mountain Road, near Interstate 95. When I was there the other day, the pump was so slow - so u-n-b-e-a-r-a-b-l-y s-l-o-w - that I lost patience and stopped at a $10 purchase. I just couldn't stand it any longer, and left. I figure I saved $20.

Of course, there's always the possibility it was an Enroy marketing scheme to get motorists to consume less gasoline and eat more fried chicken. In the time it took to get $10 worth of gas, I could have gone inside, ordered the Royal Farms chicken lunch, bought my Multi-Match tickets and checked out the May edition of Maxim.

It's a tossup which will be harder in the next couple of years - recruiting young Americans for the war in Iraq or high school lacrosse players for Duke.

So, tell me again: Why is Martin O'Malley running for governor? His job as mayor of Baltimore is finished here? Mission accomplished? He's been such an effective, hands-on mayor with the city schools that he wants to put Maryland on the map in public education?

Of course, maybe The O'Mayor just wants to be president some day, and you don't get there as a big-city mayor. You get there by being a governor, or former governor, or even (in Richard Nixon's case) a failed candidate for governor. Speaking of Nixon, have you seen the guy who plays President Logan on 24 this season? He's a better Nixon than Nixon - paranoid, conniving and dressed in ill-fitting suits - upgraded with a cell phone. First lady Martha Logan was obviously inspired by Martha Mitchell, the gabby wife of Nixon's attorney general. In the midst of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, Martha Mitchell made late-night phone calls to reporters and at one point claimed to have been drugged and held against her will. (This kind of stuff happens all the time on 24.) Speaking of 24, check out the Don and Mike Show (105.7 FM in Baltimore) some afternoon: If you're lucky, you'll hear master mimic Mike O'Meara doing a better William Devane (Secretary of Defense Heller on 24) than William Devane.

Speaking of O'Malley again: He says he wants to be governor because Maryland is "adrift," and because "we cannot allow our state to coast or slip backward." If anything is slipping backward these days, it's Baltimore's crime rate, up 4 percent citywide since Jan. 1, with homicides ahead of last year's pace.

Maryland adrift? With 3.4 percent unemployment, below the national average, and more than 43,000 new jobs since last March, and venture capital investment doubling here in the first three months of 2006, if that's being adrift, I'd like to see what full-ahead looks like.

Here's something reassuring: The Bush-appointed chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Deborah Majoras, told Congress last year that she opposes price controls on gasoline. In fact, she thinks price controls - government regulation of the oil industry - would do more harm than good. I'm glad we have high-ranking government officials with such faith in the free markets, don't you?

Speaking of which, the three largest U.S. oil and gas companies were expected to report combined first-quarter profits in excess of $16 billion. That's a 19 percent jump from last year. I say bring the Marines home from Iraq and have them invade Exxon Mobil.

I have to upgrade my spam filter. Too many e-mails with the subject line, "She'll love you for it!" Speaking of Spam, I still have five cans of it left in my Y-2K reserves. Any takers?

Crime spike in Baltimore's Northern Police District. Shortage of patrol officers. The answer? Reassign the commander to the property room! Makes sense to me!

Here's what you do, and you're going to love me for telling you: Buy four Italian green peppers (cubanelles, not bells), break them by hand, remove seeds and stem. Cook them slowly, over moderate heat, in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet until they become soft, about 15 minutes. Then, scramble four eggs, turn up the heat a bit, pour the eggs over the peppers, give a dash of salt and pepper. (The olive oil should be real hot, so that the eggs sizzle and bubble for a minute or two. See penultimate scene in Big Night, where Stanley Tucci makes Italian-style scrambled eggs for his brother.) When the eggs are cooked, remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle a tiny bit of parmesan on the peppers-and-eggs. Serve as a sandwich on Italian bread, or eat naked.

dan.rodricks@baltsun.com

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