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Live, It's The Martin O'Malley Show

(Available now over at Raw Fisher Radio: A visit with two of the area's best hyperlocal bloggers, the Prince of Petworth, Dan Silverman; and the Silver Spring Penguin, Jennifer Deseo. Join us as we look inside the burgeoning world of online micronews in this time of media turmoil.)

Ok, maybe it's not exactly appointment viewing, but Wednesday is the next go-round for "Ask the Governor," aka The Martin O'Malley Show, a monthly TV call-in show starring Maryland's top man.

I know you can't wait for tomorrow's edition, so I thought I'd give you a quick synopsis of O'Malley's maiden voyage on his new Maryland Public Television program, which airs the third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and is archived here.

(Amazingly, O'Malley's predecessor, Bobby Haircut, didn't have a TV show of his own, though he did have those ultra-cool PSAs in which he caulked a guy's bathtub, painted a lady's room and installed a ceiling fan for a couple, all purportedly so that they could make the time to go visit Maryland. These days, Bob Ehrlich has to settle for radio--he and the missus have a weekly chat show on WBAL in Baltimore.)

Sadly, O'Malley's not really the host of his show; MPT's Jeff Salkin, who has an unfortunate habit of rephrasing viewers' questions to make them much less specific and much less interesting, runs the half-hour session. But O'Malley's personality comes through nonetheless--at least, his calm, cool, charming, eye-squinting sincere side.

On the first episode, O'Malley came as the bearer of bad news and the forecasters of even worse news. With budget season approaching, the governor was chock full of dire warnings: "We're in for some rough sledding." There will be more cuts and "All of it will be painful." "I think we're in for a lot more cuts." And so on like that. Makes you want to tune in next time, doesn't it?

But at least the guy's being straightforward. He didn't exactly break a whole lot of news on the first show, but he did make it clear that furlough days for state workers could be part of the next wave of cuts. He rejected a viewer's suggestion that Maryland bump up its tax on alcohol, which hasn't been raised since 1955. An increase in that tax would raise only a few million dollars, O'Malley said. Similarly, he wasn't hopeful about any increase in the gas tax either, noting frankly that about bouncing it off legislators, he concluded that "It is not something where there is much political will at all."

The governor did find some glint of hope in the prospect that President Obama will approve a second stimulus package that could result in money for big infrastructure projects, and O'Malley reiterated his support for the proposed Purple Line transit line from New Carrollton to Bethesda. But he danced around a viewer's question, saying only that he supports the idea, without taking any position on where exactly the line should go, whether it should be above or below ground, whether it should be heavy or light rail, and so on.

If the new administration does decide to fast-track transit projects, you can be sure money will flow to Virginia's rail to Dulles plan long before it goes to a Purple Line project that is still very much in the formative phase of planning.

O'Malley comes off as serious, concerned and cautious on the show; he showed very little of the humor, temper, or intellectual curiosity that make him more interesting than your standard-issue politician. Just about the only sign of his more freewheeling side came at the very end of the show, when he seemed relieved to learn that the program was over. "That flew," he said, and you could tell this wasn't his idea of a walk in the park.

By Marc Fisher |  December 16, 2008; 12:18 PM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

So how come you don't have any cutesy, irreverent and impertinent nicknames for O'Malley? Or is that just reserved for Republican govenors?

Posted by: ronjaboy | December 17, 2008 7:28 AM

My thoughts about Marty McFly; the Irish Tenor; maybe even Martin McMuffin? There are loads of possibilities!!

Posted by: Kellyinbalto | December 17, 2008 6:52 PM

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