What's behind Gov. Patrick's contentious tone?

BOSTON ( -- One week before he's set to deliver his State of the State Address, and unveil his budget plan for the coming year Governor Deval Patrick is trying to get out from under mounting scandals and seems defensive.

"What are you smoking, my dear?" he asked FOX 25 Political Reporter Sharman Sacchetti after she raised a question about outside efforts to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts.

It's just one in a string of recent examples of the governor's increasingly odd responses to questions.

Is there a strategy at work here?

"If there's a strategy, it's not a clear one," said Peter Ubertaccio, Director of the Martin Institute at Stonehill College. "I mean, he seems to be defensive over issues people seem to have legitimate questions about."

Take what Patrick said Tuesday, after his news conference announcing $50 million to go toward protecting the state against climate change.

Sacchetti asked a legitimate question about whether or not it was a good use of money, especially given his past failed green tech initiatives like Evergreen Solar.

He started quizzing Sacchetti, and when she answered his questions, he tried to tell her that bankrupt Evergreen Solar "wasn't a failure."

Then, Patrick shouted for Sacchetti to "report the facts." Sacchetti responded, "Evergreen went bankrupt" and asked him "are you calling this a success?"

FOX is reporting the facts.

Massachusetts offered Evergreen an incentive package in upwards of $50 million.

In 2011, it went under, closed its plant, and let go of 800 people.

Yes, FOX asks tough, legitimate questions about how the way state leaders are spending your money.

And FOX reporters always arm themselves with the facts.

Last week, Sacchetti asked Patrick legitimate questions about mismanagement at DCF, and how it led to the agency losing track of a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy whom authorities fear may be dead.

After weeks of telling FOX an independent investigation wasn't needed, he did an about face, and finally called for one.

On Jan. 9, I asked him what changed, and he just continued to dig in.

"Well you can characterize and will characterize my responses anyway you want I said then what I say now which is that systemic failure doesn't explain what happened in the Oliver case," said Patrick.

Political Professor Peter Ubertaccio is the Director of the Martin Institute at Stonehill College.

"After all this time in office, he owns all of these problems," said Ubertaccio. "If there's a problem at DCF, they're his problems, a problem of his administration. Doesn't mean he can't fix it."

Ubertaccio tells us he has seen politicians push back toward the end of their terms, but adds sarcasm and defensiveness don't play well.

"I think it is an affliction among many people at this point in their terms, when they have a number of issues that are controversial and they're a little less forthright and open than they should be," he said.

Mounting scandals continue to cloud Patrick's final year in office. Still, last fall, a Public Policy poll showed his approval rating hovering at 50%.

Next Tuesday, Patrick delivers his State of the State. On Wednesday, he is expected to unveil his budget.

Thursday, legislative hearings get underway at the State House in an effort to find out what went wrong at the Department of Children and Families.