Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Maryland Special Session - O'Malley Plays to the Choir


A three act play depicting inter-party dynamics in the Maryland General Assembly.

Act I, Scene III:
Democratic Governor Martin "Tony Tenor" O’Malley ran on a platform of tax and spend. Amazingly enough, the voters didn’t seem to mind.

Special Session. Day three. In this last scene of Act I, all eyes are upon Annapolis. Protestors rally outside the State House demanding accountability while Tenor and his cronies bunker down inside. Their mission: to fund proposed budget increases specifically designed to turn the Free State into the “Flee State.” At stake: the ability to borrow at negligible interest rates, to attract private sector business, and to keep the wealthier sectors of the population from migrating en masse.

State House office of Senator Bobby "Bobby Baklava" Zirkin, heir apparent to the throne (Bobby is being groomed to take over for Tony when the time comes for his final political ascent to the White House). The legislature is bracing for a turf war. Senator Nathaniel "Paulie Peanuts" McFadden and his capos, Senator Lisa "Salvio Dante" Gladden, and Baklava are railing against rival power monger, Comptroller Peter "Johnny Sacrimonious" Franchot, prime target numero uno for supporting the Chamber of Commerce position demanding fiscal restraint. Johnny’s capo, Senator Jim "Jimbo Leotardo" Brochin fired the first shot by derailing a committee report favoring tax increases with a pre-planned filibuster. Fading waves of Jimbo reading from Gone With the Wind can be heard in the background.

(Sal and Paulie storm through the stage door office with Bobby close behind. Bobby slams the door on a freckle-faced page who has trailed them down the hallway and tried to follow them inside. Bobby plops into his seat behind the desk. Sal and Paulie rest their weary hides on the desk edges)

Sal: Did I tell you what a no good dirty rotten weasel that Jimbo is. Turning his back on the family and breaking rank. It’s a disgrace I tell you, an utter disgrace.

Paulie: Tony’s gonna be plenty pissed, that’s for sure. What're we gonna do about this, Bobby?

Bobby (looking distressed): I don’t know, Paulie. I don’t know (begins tapping fingers). Without massive increases in state services, Tony’s a goner. I mean, who’s gonna vote for that clown in 2010 if the legislature doesn’t expand existing government programs and fund services traditionally paid for by the private sector?

Paulie: You mean who else besides people making minimum wage and illegal immigrants?

Bobby (glaring at Paulie): Shaddup, you yutz! Of course that’s what I mean. That filibuster is threatening this whole family’s re-election.

Sal: We’ve just gotta tax the rich and upper middle class out of existence. It’s our only hope for survival.

Bobby: Jimbo must be stopped. But how….

Paulie: I could surreptitiously let the air outta his tires. When he tries to drive back to his hotel tonight, boy, will he be surprised.

Bobby: Dumbkoff! You of all people should know he’ll only get a few hours sleep. Probably'll sack out in his office. You’ll have to do a lot better than that if you want to continue trading pork with me.

Sal: Wait a minute. Don’t you and Jimbo belong to the same temple? Couldn’t you concoct some kinda ruse like an emergency prayer meeting, say something like Israel being nuked by Iran?

Bobby: Oh, and now we all look alike and pray at the same place, huh? That’s cold, Sal, real cold.

(Just then, Tony bursts into the room and immediately slams the door. The three cronies jump to attention. Bobby vacates his seat in deference to the boss. Tony doesn’t have to be invited to sit down)

Bobby: Tony!

Paulie: Hey, Tone.

Sal: Tony. Am I glad you’re here. We’re sinking fast. We’re gonna be sleeping with the schaefers.

Bobby (very conciliatory): You have to understand, Tony, I had no idea Jimbo was gonna break rank. You’ve got to believe me. I did everything I could to muscle him into line. That sucker looked me straight in the eye and even said he didn’t care if the family ran someone against him in the next election…

Tony (breaking in): You mean like the Republicans are pulling in district one?

Bobby (pointing his index finger at Tony): Exactly, chief. (Seeming slightly relieved) Didn’t care a lick. Said he was going forward with the impasse because he loves this state and the people of Maryland and didn’t want to see all the good of our predecessors flushed down the toilet.

Tony (with a crooked smile): He said that?

Bobby (crosses his hand to his heart): On my bubby’s brisket.

Tony (shaking his head musing): He really said that? I can’t believe he actually said that. How dare he give that rival crew any credit (Getting a tough looking stance on his face). Well, I’ll show Benedict Arnold what happens to rats who jump ship. If he thinks we’re all just going to sit back and let those elite sacks of suck have their way with us, they are in for one rude awakening. Poor bastards. They don’t even know who they’re messing with.

Paulie (looking very confused): Who are they messing with, Tone? I thought they were messing with us?

Tony: That’s why I get paid the big bucks and you are just a peon. Oh, Paulie. Ye of alabaster eyes gleaming undimmed by human tears. Those idiots aren’t just messing with us. They’re messing with her!

(Bobby and Sal gasp and cover their mouths simultaneously)

Paulie: Her?

Sal: Not her, Tony. You can’t mean her.

Bobby: You mean, “She Who Shall Not Be Named?”

Tony (jumping out of the chair and buttoning jacket): That’s exactly who I mean, Sal.

(Paulie continues to look baffled).

Tony: She’s looking to our tiny blue state as a role model for socialized government. You realize, of course, I took the lead in publicly support her campaign for President.

Paulie (suddenly getting it): Oh….

Tony: That’s right. And if this hurry up and decide gamble of mine doesn’t put the screws on those pansies to hike the sales tax, individual and corporate income tax and transfer tax, gouge those rich MoCo’s for every cent we can shake, expand free health care, and stick the voters with slots, well…all I can say is…heads are gonna roll (pause)...lliterally.

(Complete tangible silence. Paulie gulps, wide-eyed)

Paulie: I like my head right where it is.

Bobby: So, if I’m hearing you correctly, Tony, what I think you’re saying is, if we want to nip this problem in the bud, we’d better get our butts back out on that floor.

Tony: Not exactly, Bobby, it’s a bit more complicated than that. But if I waste any more time explaining how to twist arms to you lamebrains, Moonshine Mike might defect to the other side. Just follow me, quickly. Do what I say and do as I do. And don’t any of you open your fat mouths, you got that?

(All nod like sheep and fall in line behind Tony strutting toward the exit. As the stage door opens, each one passes the freckle-faced page who is still standing on the other side in the hallway. Fearing possible retaliation, the page’s head faces straight down to avoid possible eye contact)