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Well, if it worked for Clinton ...

The guy who defended Bill Clinton vis-a-vis Monica Lewinsky has a new cause: Martin O'Malley's tax fling.

Lanny Davis, the White House special counsel promoted during the scandal to pundit-in-chief, insists that O'Malley does not want financial relations with the vast majority of Maryland wallets. Further, he says, the Marylanders (like himself) who would pay more taxes should welcome a gubernatorial money grab.

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"All parts of the state and all income groups benefit from different parts of this package," Davis wrote in a commentary in Wednesday's Sun. "That is its genius."

The man who vouched for Clinton's chastity is here to testify to the governor's genius. Should anybody buy that?

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"I don't think progressive taxation will have anything to do with Monica Lewinsky," Davis, who lives in Montgomery County, said with a laugh.

Davis said the newspaper piece was "entirely my idea. Nobody suggested it to me." He said he did consult with O'Malley's communications chief, but only to clarify "several factual questions about the proposal."

Way back in the (first?) Clinton era, Davis decided to leave the White House to spend more time with his family. (Really. His wife was expecting a baby.) Then the Lewinsky story broke and instead of nesting, Davis found himself taking up for the president on two or three TV shows every night for a year.

Today, Davis' "baby" is 9 years old and attending school in a trailer. Convinced that taxes are needed for education and transportation, Davis is playing pitchman again.

It's in his blood: Before Clinton, Davis sold Amway.

There's where all the flowers have gone

Bad news for Baltimore's floral industry: The queen has left town.

I reported back in August that some bigwig from the United Arab Emirates had come to Hopkins for some sort of treatment, and that whole trees, topiaries and spectacular floral arrangements had been ordered for her VIP hospital wing. I had that from a no-names-please source at Valley View Farms, which brought in the greenery but not the flowers.

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Now that the dream client has left town, I found someone willing to go on the record: The florist who supplied arrangements to the hospital and then to the top, $5,000-a-night floor of the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront. There, a woman whom the florist understood to be the queen of Dubai stayed with a large entourage for about two months.

"We provided over 50, 60, 70 arrangements for them," said Chris Psoras, owner of Flowers by Chris. "They were all tremendous, all 5, 6 feet, 4 feet tall." And all purples and lavenders, please. (It's a royal thing.)

Actual retail value: $5,000 to $9,000 - apiece. Not including the cost of vases, which the queen's entourage provided for smaller bouquets.

"We were given magnificent vases, like Lalique and Baccarat from Tiffany's - they were in the Tiffany's boxes - and we were actually to create magnificent arrangements in these vases."

So that's why it costs so much to fill up these days! Officials at the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington did not return a call seeking comment.

Psoras said she never spoke to the queen and quickly learned that what might be considered polite inquiries in this country - in the UAE, not so much.

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"In the beginning I asked questions, 'How's she doing? How are you finding everything here in America?'" Psoras said. Without being rude, the entourage got the message across: "You go in there and you just sit there and shut your mouth."

Which didn't keep Psoras from enjoying the business.

"For two months, they were wonderful orders," she said. "But they're gone. ... That's depressing."

Connect the dots

Some festivals are more ambitious than others. "We are trying to change our image from that of Laura Lippman's dumping ground in West Baltimore to a park people want to visit and enjoy," Michele Rosenberg, president of Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park, wrote in an e-mail promoting this weekend's celebration at the park. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, visitors will find lectures on the Crimea Estate, environmental talks, food and miniature steam train rides. No bodies, Rosenberg promises. ... Before Fred Bealefeld gets too comfortable as commish, Elbert Henderson would like to remind him - and Sheila Dixon - that there is a general election for mayor in November. Henderson is Dixon's Republican opponent. While his chances in heavily Democratic Baltimore are slim, he knows what he'd do with policing if given the chance. And it doesn't involve putting an insider in charge. "If he hasn't [curbed crime] in the past, what makes anybody think he can work a miracle?" ... Two lawyers have joined Bob Ehrlich at Womble Carlyle's Baltimore office, which, depending on whom you believe, is either a real, honest-to-goodness law firm or the ex-Gov's shadow campaign headquarters. The new lawyers are T. Sky Woodward and John Parker Sweeney. Both from Miles & Stockbridge. Both members of the Republican National Lawyers Association. Until taking the job at Womble, Woodward was general counsel to the state GOP.


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