For want of a `g,' the meaning is lost


June 23, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Who knew you could get on William Donald Schaefer's good side by writing about him ogling somebody else's backside? I'm high on the comptroller's hit parade, judging from his campaign Web site, which posted a copy of my column on the infamous Board of Public Works rump-gazing incident - right up there with a sympathetic Barry Rascovar column and an Examiner story. At least it looked like my column. It had my name, my photo and most of what I wrote way back in February. But never mind that Sun copyright at the bottom. It wasn't the real deal.

Here's the first line, according to "Trying to comprehend Maryland's comptroller?"

Here's the first line, as it really appeared in The Sun: "Trying to comprehend Maryland's comptrogler?"

Except for the expurgated pun, the column is fairly flattering - provided you overlook the context: The 84-year-old comptroller had just embarrassed a young aide to the governor by very publicly admiring her backside. Schaefer had sent her a handwritten note that sort of apologized, and I had handwriting expert Susanne Shapiro check it out.

In his loopy letters and words that turned to dashes, Shapiro saw impatience and bossiness - but in a good, executive-personality kinda way. She also saw loopiness of a different sort, but I opted to leave that out. I thought I was cutting the guy some slack. Not enough for the campaign, which took the liberty of cutting the opening joke before posting the column.

This from the Web site that answers the question "Why Schaefer?" with: "Integrity. His word is his bond. His honesty is legendary."

Columnist Annoyed called Laslo Boyd, who recently signed on as senior consultant to the campaign. He told the staff to swap out the fake column for the real one, and to DO IT NOW. (The original was up by the end of the day yesterday.) But Boyd said he couldn't determine whodunnit.

"I've talked to at least three different people, and I don't have anything that resembles any explanation for it," he said. "I'm not sure anybody's going to tell me, `I changed it.'"

The real last laugh

Doug Duncan's decision to drop out of the governor's race yesterday cut short the cut-up campaign. Never mind the Montgomery County executive's billing as the only grown-up running. His was a campaign of Lettermanesque lists, a la "Top 10 Differences Between Lincoln and Mayor O'Malley." And spoof press releases, such as the one announcing Extreme Makeover - Maryland Edition, a fictional TV show chronicling the governor's alleged election-year transformation from "Right Wing Robert to Bankroll Bobby, the phony election-year moderate."

The real question: What happens to the cardboard cutouts?

Says campaign spokeswoman Jody Couser: "Considering eBay."

Coffee under the bridge

Searching for diplomacy after a bitter rivalry, the O'Malley camp might have found inspiration yesterday in the Canton coffee shop below campaign HQ. The word they settled on evoked Juan Valdez as much as Doug Duncan: Robust.

"I want to commend and acknowledge Mr. Duncan on running an extremely robust campaign," said Del. Anthony Brown, O'Malley's pick for LG and - yesterday, when Brown held a news conference but the mayor dodged the cameras - PR.

The Sun's Doug Donovan tried to draw him out. "Duncan has taken shots at you guys," he said. "Is that water under the bridge?"

Brown: "Doug has run a robust campaign."

WYPR's Mary Rose Madden took another run at it. But Brown stood his ground: "I think Mr. Duncan has conducted a very robust campaign."

Connect the dots

The city of Hyattsville was ready to impeach Commander in Chief Geena Davis for suggesting residents eat pork chops. What'll the folks in Waldorf do to Hilary Duff? She tells Elle that boyfriend Joel Madden's hometown is "a pretty ghetto place in Maryland." ... A series of talks at Johns Hopkins - "Hard Science/Soft Skills: Fostering a Culture of Civility in the Scientific Workplace" - concludes Tuesday with a presentation by Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners.

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