Iwent to sleep under an O'Malleymoon and woke up caressedby the beams of anO'Malley sunrise. Breathing deeplythe oxygen supplied by theO'Malley administration, I hadmy O'Malley Oaty Oats cerealwhile listening to O'Malley'sMarch.
O'Malley highways whisked meto work, past woods, streams andmarshland all acquired by wiseand all-seeing O'Malley minions.Arriving at my desk, I poredover reams of the latest O'Malleymissives outlining the latestO'Malley accomplishments."My, oh, my," I blurted out tocolleagues, "when does Martin O'Malley sleep?"
They just shook their heads in OMazement.Of the approximately 320 news releasesissued last year by the Department ofNatural Resources (that's minus policeblotter), 145, or 45 percent, put his excellencyin the middle of the action. The trendcontinues this year, the one in which hehopes to secure another four-year term.
He announces. He initiates. He launches.
He congratulates. He applauds. He endorses.No effort is too small for mention in anO'Malley news release, even marinas thatstop pumping feces into the water get theirprops as long as the governor gets his.
Why, in the middle of the budget crisislast year, O'Malley took time from his busyday to remind anglers that "there are stillplenty of good opportunities for Marylandersto get out on the water, either ontheir own or through a charter boat, andenjoy the rest of the summer."
When two hikers wandered off and werelater found, O'Malley commended "everyoneinvolved for their brave effort."
Even when O'Malley did not appear to bein the room, rest assured, he was there.
From the graduation of Natural ResourcesPolice recruits at Anne ArundelCommunity College ("The MarylandNatural Resources Police arecrucial to ensuring the safety ofour citizens as well as our treasuredland and aquatic resourcesare safe," said the invisible O'Malley)to the ceremonial tossing outof the first fish for the state'sannual contest ("Our annual fishingchallenge offers Marylandfamilies and visitors the chance towin prizes while enjoying ourexceptional waterways and recreationalfishing opportunities,"said Mr. Omnipresent), news releaseswould have you believe thatour governor presided.
Now, this isn't to say his predecessordidn't use the Office ofSmoke and Mirrors to gin up pretty-picturebackdrops for news conferences during hisfailed re-election bid. As a matter of fact, itused to be a running joke with that officewhich mountain or waterfront scene wouldbe used by Bob Ehrlich to blah-blah-blah.
But this is something else: 261 weekdaysaveraging one O'Malleygram every otherday. Not even Stephen King could keep up.And the funny thing is, the news releasesread just fine without him in them.
When I teased a high-ranking DNRofficial about the volume of material andthe number of MOM mentions, I was told,"All agencies do it."
Of the 79 news releases issued last year bythe Maryland Department of the Environment,26 (33 percent) worked the governorinto the action. The Department of Agricultureissued 239 news releases and notices,with dear old MOM in 63 (26 percent) ofthem.
There are, however, limits to what thegovernor will take credit for. He does not do:
■ Dead animals. He doesn't announcehunting regulations, contest winners ormore hunting opportunities. He doesn'twarn us to be safe during hunting season.No quote in the "Muskrat trapping seasonextended" press release. Must be savinghimself for the next nutria release.
■ Creepy invaders of our animal kingdom,planet world or underwater areas. Noemerald ash borers, rock snot or myco forMOM.
■ Natural Resources Police arrests. Theformer prosecutor was silent after a stingoperation busted eight men at GambrillState Park and charged them with lewdsexual conduct. MOM was mum on oysterpoachers, too. (But he bounced back intothe limelight to speak up for our leafyfriends as part of the "Trees for SchoolsProject.")
■ Speaking of trees ... memorial tree plantingsfor deceased presidential cats. Really,no MOM comment in a news release thatwent out to note that the Clinton's cat,Socks, would be getting a tree planted in St.Mary's County. Geez, if you can't commenton a dead Democratic cat, what animal willyou move your lips for?
■ Which brings us to ... certain kinds offish. His excellency saw fit to comment onthe setting of state records for shark andcobia -- robust, manly, Hemingway-esquebeasts. But pity Don Perantoni, the anglerwho caught the 9-inch warmouth. Hisaccomplishment was lauded by FisheriesService biologist Keith Lockwood. Also ...
■ Photo contests, art displays and visionplans. Secretary of Natural Resources John Griffin carries the water on those.
■ Park closings for furlough days ... butMOM was happy to be part of the writtenfestivities when parks were open Labor Dayweekend.
So in closing, let me leave you with thisIrish blessing: May the road rise to meetyou. May the wind be always at your back.May the sun shine warm upon your face.And on Nov. 2, remember who made it allhappen.