Now that the Christmas shopping season is officially here, it's time to begin drawing up a list of gifts for Maryland's politicians, all of whom are deserving of consideration at this time of year.
With apologies to the recipients, a few gift ideas:
For Gov. Harry Hughes: Nothing. The governor received his present early this year in the form of Republican Robert A. Pascal, who came disguised as a credible opponent but turned out -- much to the governor's glee -- to be an amateur when it came to a statewide campaign.
For outgoing Lt. Gov. Samuel W. Bogley: A job, a muzzle and a bottle of Scotch. He'll need the second in order to get the first, and after the past four years he's entitled to the last.
For incoming Lt. Gov. J. Joseph Curran Jr.: Access to the governor's private phone line, just in case -- because of habits formed during the past four years -- Hughes forgets he has a lieutenant on the other side of the hallway.
For Bob Pascal: An autographed picture of Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer with the inscription: "To Bob, I like you a lot but don't ask me to endorse you publicly -- I don't like ANYONE that much."
For Schaefer: Pascal. The mayor desperately wanted his buddy to be governor. That didn't work, so instead he should get him gift-wrapped on his doorstep Christmas morning. Schaefer should also be given Curran's home phone number, because that's about as close to Hughes as he's going to get after snubbing the governor through most of the campaign.
For state Republican Party Chairman Allan C. Levey: HELP. No one ever needed it more after the party's showing in the gubernatorial and Senate elections this fall.
For Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes: A good idea for a present to send the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC), which all but ensured his reelection to the U.S. Senate with its vicious media campaign against him.
For beaten GOP Senate candidate Lawrence J. Hogan: A NCPAC doll to stick pins in. He'll have plenty of time to kill after leaving office as Prince George's county executive next week.
For State Sen. Melvin A. Steinberg, the apparent winner of the Senate President Sweepstakes: A professional bookie on the payroll who can keep track of all the deals he cut in order to win the presidency.
For Sen. James Clark Jr., who is apparently the outgoing Senate president: A Steinberg doll to stick pins in as he whiles away his time in the back row of the chamber.
For State Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr: The first copy of Bogley's upcoming book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People in Annapolis." Miller's most recent on-the-record comment about incoming Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening, a fellow Democrat: "Parris is proof of that old saying: 'The higher a baboon climbs up a tree, the more of his butt he shows.' "
For Glendening: A Miller doll. See above.
For the 47 members of the Senate: Personalized bottles of No-Doz that they can use throughout the more boring bits of the session.
For Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs: A gubernatorial campaign. Although reelected in November, Sachs spent the whole fall running for governor. His only problem now is getting through the next three years so he can start running again, this time for real.
For Speaker of the House of Delegates Benjamin L. Cardin: Some name recognition around the state. Like Sachs, Cardin wants to be governor. It won't happen unless people outside Baltimore and Annapolis find out who he is.
For House Majority Leader Donald B. Robertson: A bronzed copy of the annotated code of the State of Maryland. That way he can use it as a pillow and always have his first love close by.
For the Montgomery County delegation: A quiche and Perrier concession stand in the House office building.
For the Prince George's County Delegation: What do you give the delegation that has everything?
For the editorial board of The Baltimore Sun: An official position in the Hughes cabinet, something it has longed for during the last four years. Also, a 30-minute briefing session with the governor and his staff and with the legislature each Monday morning just in case the elected officials missed the editorials giving them their marching orders.
For The Washington Post's editorial board: A subscription to The Baltimore Sun, to help keep up on Maryland politics.
For outgoing gadfly Del. Robin Ficker: A new political party. He's lost as a Democrat, an independent and as a Republican. Libertarian Robin?
For the state house press corps: Someone to replace Ficker. No press corps should be without a gadfly.
For the author of this column: A better idea for next week's column.