At a Silver Spring diner last week, as Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler sat with reporters and considered a photo of himself standing amid a teenage party, one of the diner’s owners approached the table.

A few days later, that picture of Gansler would make national news and spark debate about what Maryland’s top legal officer and advocate against underage drinking should have done that June night.

The diner owner asked to have her photo taken with someone who might one day be governor, and Gansler complied, momentarily suspending his argument that he had no moral responsibility to intervene at the party in the picture, even if he knew he was surrounded by underage drinking.

He took the opportunity to draw the woman into the discussion, asking whether she had children, and whether she would have intervened if she went to pick up a teenage daughter at a party and saw that other teens were drinking. Gansler stipulated that her daughter wasn’t drinking.

The woman paused, conflicted, and said her daughter would get a stern lecture, but she wasn’t sure whether she would call authorities or shut down the party.

“You see?” Gansler said after the woman left. A few minutes later, the owner returned to tell Gansler she’d reconsidered. “You know, I might actually make that phone call.”

Gansler shrugged, and before he resumed arguing that he had no moral responsibility for other people’s children, remarked: “It also has to do with whether you have a boy or a girl.”

ecox@baltsun.com