A nun, a reporter and the governor of Maryland walk into a bar...
Notes from Annapolis: A dispatch from the Baltimore Sun's Gadi Dechter
Just another Monday night in Annapolis: Gov. Martin O'Malley stops by Castlebay Irish Pub for a Guinness, is joined by Sister Helen PreJean for beery commiseration over their failed attempt to repeal the death penalty -- and ends the night reciting Yeats with his arm around that "skinny jerk" and scourge of execution-haters everywhere, Sen. Jim Brochin.
Our tale begins at 193 Main St., at an Irish watering hole popular with O'Malley and lawmakers who flock there after the Monday night session.
Moments earlier, the House of Delegates had offered a sort of sorry-it-didn't-work-out salute to death penalty foe Sister Helen Prejean (of Dead Man Walking fame). So when Del. Tom Hucker pops into Castlebay for a beer and sees the governor there, the Mongtomery County Democrat seizes an opportunity to make a match (and probably score some points with the gov in the process.)
Hucker, a former do-gooder activist/lobbyist, whips out his Blackberry and calls the death penalty opponents who had accompanied Prejean on this valedictory visit to the state capital. Hucker tells the Prejean entourage to turn the car around pronto and beat it back to the bar.
And so they do, and the group (among them activist Jane Henderson, lobbyist Jay Schwartz and Hucker) repaired to a quiet table where Prejean regales them with war stories from the anti-capital punishment trail, according to Hucker.
Meanwhile, who comes in but the unprepossing young(ish) senator who singlehandedly eviscerated the abolition bill last Tuesday with an amendment that simultaneously repealed the repeal and threw his august chamber into apparent chaos.
Brochin, as you can imagine, was not invited to joint the Prejean-O'Malley caucus. But he gamely made do with free drinks offered by circling reporters and easy chatter with Sen. Alex Mooney, a Republican and fellow defender of state executions.
And that's where it looked like it would end: winners at the bar, losers by the window, keeping their peace and distance, separated by philosophy, united only by a love of beer.
But then O'Malley, on his way back from the restroom, sidles up to Brochin, wraps one muscular gubernatorial arm around the shoulder and asks how the "skinny jerk" is doing.
Uneasy laughter all around. Brochin tries to make small talk with the governor, but O'Malley is preoccupied with weightier themes. He lifts his chin and recites into the half-empty bar the entirety of William Butler Yeats' great poem, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree."
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made: Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings; There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart's core.
O'Malley, Hucker and Prejean in Castlebay