Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who once wondered where Montgomery County "fits in," has no such problem with Washington.

"Washington," the governor proclaimed yesterday, "is in Maryland."

A banner over his head even added an exclamation point -- "Washington Is in Maryland!" -- as Schaefer told a crowd of about 200 suburban business officials that the state's international marketing efforts will stress the state's proximity to the nation's capital.

The idea came to him on his recent trip to the Far East, when officials there said they didn't know where Maryland was. "They said, 'We know where Washington is, we know Johns Hopkins {University in Baltimore}, but we don't know where Maryland is.'

"So I said to them, 'Washington is in Maryland,' " Schaefer said.

Schaefer aides said the briefing was to show "the importance of Prince George's and Montgomery counties to Maryland." While Schaefer said the state was helping the area solve its transportation problems, he added the region's business interests don't need much more state aid.

"You don't really need it right now," Schaefer said. "You are booming all over the place like I've never seen an area boom in the United States."

But he said the region "has a responsibility to help the governor make every area of the state strong. We need your brains."

Schaefer said he had been unfairly depicted as a "Jap-basher" because of some harsh comments he made when the state was considering buying Japanese-made cranes for the Port of Baltimore. He wants the state to push full speed into international trade, he said, and has reorganized the state's efforts.

Schaefer played to favorable Washington audiences yesterday, both at the breakfast briefing at the Capital Centre and before a Senate committee on Capitol Hill. He was preaching to the converted at breakfast, as Prince George's County lawyer and developer Peter F. O'Malley brought together a crowd picked from the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the chambers of commerce of both Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

Most already are enthusiastic Schaefer backers and some in the room speculated that the gathering did as much to help the reputation of O'Malley, a county Democratic power whom Schaefer praised profusely, as it did to help Schaefer with the Washington business community. Capital Centre owner Abe Pollin picked up the tab for the scrambled eggs.

Schaefer was invited to Capitol Hill to tell a subcommittee of the Committee on Environment and Public Works how he had tackled infrastructure problems while he was mayor of Baltimore. The answer was with federal money.

"There have been no improvements in Baltimore without federal aid," Schaefer said.

And he added that the best federal aid came with few restrictions. "Let me have the money. Let me make some decisions," Schaefer said. "Then come see how I spent the money."

It's an approach Schaefer said he plans to take with the Maryland legislature. He said he still plans to ask the General Assembly for a $20 million "action fund" that he could lend to local governments for emergencies or use for economic development projects.