- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 5, 2006

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. says Democratic leaders are misstating his position on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would ban homosexual “marriage.”

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, gave a strong endorsement last week for putting the constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

“It is an issue of such importance that the people should be heard on it,” he told The Washington Times.

The push for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman has gained momentum since a Baltimore Circuit Court judge ruled last month that the state’s 33-year-old ban on same-sex “marriage” is unconstitutional.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch repeatedly has said he shares the governor’s view that the legislature should not act until the state’s appeal of the case is decided, which could take months or even years.

“The vast majority of the members of the House and Senate are in agreement with the governor, that it is appropriate for it to go through the appeals process,” the Anne Arundel County Democrat said.

Mr. Ehrlich said the speaker got it wrong. “They want that to be my position,” he said.

Speech jokes

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s national television debut raised a few eyebrows last week, including those of funnyman Jon Stewart.

The Democratic governor delivered the rebuttal to President Bush’s State of the Union address from the executive mansion in Richmond, in front of a glowing fire.

Mr. Stewart apparently thought the decor was laughable, and did the following bit on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” He played a clip of Mr. Kaine saying he was honored to give the rebuttal “on behalf of my commonwealth, my fellow Democratic governors …”

“And my decorator,” finished Mr. Stewart.

“I’m in Liberace’s parlor room,” the comedian sang.

“But the Democrats picked Kaine for more than just his arched eyebrow and sweet crib,” Mr. Stewart said, playing a montage of Mr. Kaine’s repeated signature line, “There’s a better way.” A Kaine staffer acknowledged that the bit was funny and noted that what Mr. Stewart didn’t know is that the room behind Mr. Kaine was arranged by Fox News.

“We decorate, you decide,” the staffer quipped.

Starstruck

Hello, Norma Jean, and welcome to the Virginia Capitol, darlin’. Costumed in a clingy, strapless and decollete blue taffeta gown and a platinum blond wig, and speaking in Marilyn Monroe’s breathy, sultry lilt, actress Kera O’Bryon was having the time of her life.

Stern-faced lobbyists and lawmakers in conservative gray or blue suits grinned, blushed and babbled like schoolboys as she sidled next to them, snaked her willowy arm inside theirs and batted her eyes.

Miss O’Bryon’s coquettish bombshell act last week was part of the annual lobbying effort intended to whip up state funding to lure Hollywood to Virginia to film big-budget movies.

“Obviously, this is a bit out of the ordinary,” said Miss O’Bryon, 32, briefly slipping out of character as the wide-eyed Marilyn for an interview.

“But I enjoy this the most, trying to get their attention. They’re so buttoned-down and straight-laced,” said the Newport News actress, who usually performs in independent films and television commercials.

“The television and film industry is a little more colorful in their presentation than what they’re used to here,” she said.

Her appearance was the brainchild of lobbyist Charlie Davis, who is seeking $20 million in the new two-year state budget for the Motion Picture Opportunity Fund.

In 2004, motion picture production generated $510 million for the economy and nearly $20 million in state tax revenue.

Man’s best friend

The most famous dog in Virginia politics, state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr.’s golden retriever Maggie, has died.

Maggie was euthanized Wednesday after veterinarians discovered a tumor, Mr. Potts said.

Mr. Potts, Winchester Republican, spoke of Maggie frequently and fervently in speeches on the Senate floor and in his independent race for governor last year.

In defending a bill he introduced last year to require schoolchildren be taught pet care, he said that in politics, “You learn that sometimes the only real friend you’ve got is a dog.”

“My wife can get mad at me, my daughters can get mad at me, my constituents can get mad at me. But Maggie, she loves old daddy,” Mr. Potts said he told a committee before it killed his bill.

On Thursday, he eulogized his 9-year-old dog in a wrenching address to the Senate, recalling her appetite for frozen custard and riding around in his convertible.

“Her name was Maggie. Her eyes sparkled like stars. Her fur was as beautiful as the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her enthusiasm was contagious,” he began.

He struggled to retain his composure as he concluded his remarks: “There is a great big hole in my heart. I hope they’re serving frozen custard in heaven.”

Football politics

The Seattle Seahawks got no respect from the Virginia General Assembly.

Many of the 140-members of the legislature hail from lands beyond the Old Dominion and have NFL allegiances stretching across the United States, but the majority of them were rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers in yesterday’s Super Bowl.

A South Dakota native, Delegate Kristen J. Amundson hoped for the Steelers to nab another set of Super Bowl rings, because “they didn’t beat the Redskins this year,” the Fairfax County Democrat said.

Same goes for Lt. Gov. William T. Bolling.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, originally from Kansas City, said the pieces were “falling in place” for the Steelers to win.

“The Steelers play with a passion that makes you take notice,” the Democratic governor said. “I appreciate the workmanlike attitude and toughness the Steelers bring to the game.” The comments may have been enhanced by longtime Kaine press staffer Jeff Kraus, who is obsessed with the team.

Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli likes the Steelers for their “hard-nosed attitude,” the Fairfax County Republican said.

“I can say with great clarity that the Pittsburgh Steelers will win,” said Delegate Chris B. Saxman, a Steel City native. “Jerome Bettis will finally win the Super Bowl in his hometown” of Detroit, where the game was to be played. Most of the Steelers fans praised Mr. Bettis, the team’s running back.

“He’s a fellow Notre Dame grad and a class act,” said Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell.

Delegate Bill Janis was rooting for the Chicago Bears — oops! “OK, I’m almost over it,” he said, noting that Seattle was his team yesterday.

“I’m a Bears fan and an NFC man. Always have been, always will be,” the Goochland Republican said.

Delegate S. Chris Jones, excited to watch the game in “high def” for the first time, was on the Seahawks’ side, even though he’s a Green Bay Packers fan.

Many legislators didn’t seem to have their heart in the game this year.

“I don’t have a dog in the fight either way, so under those circumstances, I go NFC,” said Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick, Prince William County Republican, rooting for the Seahawks.

• S.A. Miller and Christina Bellantoni contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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