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Hey, Bobby, can I be your goon?

February 15, 2005|by TIM ROWLAND

From now on, I do not wish to be called by my given name. Instead, I want to be known exclusively as the "Prince of Dusk."

Sure, the "Prince of Darkness" would have more weight, but that title has already been snapped up by Joseph F. Steffen Jr., the political operative of Gov. Robert Ehrlich who was sacked last week for aggressively spreading scandalous and apparently untrue stories about the personal life of Baltimore's Mayor (and, coincidentally, Ehrlich's possible opponent in the next gubernatorial election) Martin O'Malley.

Personally, I was shocked. Who knew that Baltimore had a mayor? I thought it was one of these cities that just kind of leaderlessly existed, like an alligator in the toilet - every few days you chuck it some raw meat (or in Baltimore's case, chuck its school system or its prison a few million state dollars) and everyone was happy.

Anyway, this Steffen chap had a penchant for wearing black (like me) and working in dimmed rooms (like me) and creating political chaos (like - well, you get the point). So if he's a prince, I ought to be at least a deacon.

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Unfortunately, the prince got paupered last week when he admitted to fueling the speculative fires in regard to O'Malley's marital situation, which the mayor assures us remains blissful. Apparently the rumors have been out there for some time, although I didn't know that either. They never tell us in Washington County anything.

I should have known something was up, because every time you would see TV shots of O'Malley and his wife they were always holding hands.

That's never a good sign. Ever notice that if you see a shot of a guy publicly holding hands with his wife it usually means he's got, in the words of Elmer Fudd, some pwoblems.

Kobe Bryant, Ken Lay, Bill Clinton - public handholders all. There's no video to know whether Ghengis was holding hands with Mrs. Khan at the Congressional Pillaging Hearings, but there's a good chance. Conversely, you never see Mr. and Mrs. William Rehnquist holding hands while he's presiding at the Supreme Court.

Still, O'Malley has categorically denied any shenanigans, saying that "from the first date to the current date" he's been the model husband. All right, but that's just a bit too cute a sound bite for me. Like the old, "If it doesn't fit you must acquit." It's also a little dangerous to throw down the gauntlet like that in front of the press. Just ask Gary Hart.

At least O'Malley wasn't outed by a former governor at a Board of Public Works meeting, as happened to Parris Glendening, courtesy of King Crab. So our state is making some progress, I suppose.

These rumors were merely perpetuated on a conservative Web site under a user name that was traced back to our boy Steffen, aka, Darkness, Prince of. Ehrlich, for his part, swears he had no knowledge of the rumors, which I find easy to believe since he seems to have no knowledge of anything involving state government - like how to run one.

Which brings me to the point of all this. With the dismissal of Steffen, Ehrlich suddenly finds himself in serious need of a new Hired Goon.

Ahem.

I've got a lot of experience. I sit around all day firing out scandalous e-mails - it's a satisfying enough job, but I have to admit I always wanted to do it at a state level.

And not to kick someone when he's down, but I do think if I had the job I could come up with something a little more creative than skirt chasing.

Come ON. As scandals go, infidelity is so 1990s. It's like pot was in the '80s. Remember in 1988 when every candidate for every office was sternly asked if he had ever smoked weed? Now, nobody cares.

It's getting to be the same way with affairs. If there's some politician who isn't engaged in one dalliance or another you sort of worry whether he's OK.

"Psst. There's Rep. Sukalewski; he's not having an affair."

"Is he sick?"

No, governor, if I were your Hired Goon, I guarantee you I would dig up some real dirt on O'Malley and I guarantee you it would involve monkeys. Or better. Maybe chimps.

Think of me as your own personal AC-DC. Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap. Stop by the office anytime and look me up. I'm a prince of a guy.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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