Both of Chicago's famous politicians were in New York today, but while Obama was speaking on Wall Street reform, Rod Blagojevich was speaking for ... himself. He was here promoting the release of his book, The Governor, which is his account on the scandal that made him the governor no more. He's doing the talk-show circuit today and tomorrow, though he was more impressed with radio: "You have to listen to the Howard Stern interview I did," he told this guest Gaggler. "Let's just say he asked me questions that I've never been asked before in a public way."
Sounds titillating, so it’s too bad we can’t find a clip (or transcript) online.
What's funny to us, though, is that Blagojevich was sitting outside eating lunch, right on the route of President Obama's motorcade. Did he pick this BBQ joint so that he could spot the president? "No, definitely not, but it's interesting because this all goes back to him," he says, referencing that Senate seat that's the cornerstone of his corruption charges. That means he wasn't there when Obama came by─and he's OK with that: "I wouldn't want to embarrass the president in any way by being here."
So what was the lunch about, then? He was meeting with the veteran author Jimmy Breslin, who was signed earlier this year to produce yet another account of Blagojevich's scandal, since apparently one autobiography isn't enough. While The Governor came out last week, Breslin's book isn't slated to come out until 2010, which means that the two men were parsing through every detail that should be included in both titles.
Clearly, the former governor wants justice. "In my words, this whole thing has been a mutilation of the truth," he says of the upcoming trial, which is scheduled for June. He insists his covert plans were meant to serve the state best, adding jobs for the state's unemployed residents and extending health care to 300,000 people. In fact, he is sure that Illinois's political pantheon would have been proud of those phone call that plague him now: "Even Abraham Lincoln would have stood for what I was trying to do," he says. "He was a strong supporter of what he called 'internal improvements,' and I was just trying to do the modern version of that: public works."
Well, that didn't quite work out. And neither did his original plans to be on reality television. Not yet, at least. "Several different production companies have approached me about different reality TV programs,” he explains. “You know, all those ones where they follow you around in your home and chronicle your life." He and his wife decided those weren't the best fit.
That’s too bad, because his new life sounds perfect for something like that. When he was kicked out of office, they took his cell phone and car. He never had his own cell phone, so he now carries around his 13-year-old daughter's opalescent pink Sanyo flip phone; he also had to write his book on young Amy's pink computer. After his hand hurt from using pens and a legal pad, he switched to her computer and used voice-recognition software that let him speak his story chapter by chapter. "She would get home from school and want her computer back to do things that young girls do" he says. Sometimes he had to use the only executive authority he has left: fatherhood.
Here at NEWSWEEK, we’d tune in to watch that weekly, so we're glad to report that it might still be a possibility. "I'm figuring out other opportunities in the entertainment world," he says. He's planning to head to Los Angeles next. But is he giving the industry another shot? "The quasi-entertainment industry, I guess,” he says, refusing to divulge more details. Whatever quasi-entertainment means, we're hoping for one thing: actors in Blagojevich wigs.