CHICAGO — Live from Chicago: It's impeached, ousted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich!
The former Illinois governor filled in as a local radio talk show host Wednesday, a morning gig complete with Elvis Presley introductory music, rants against the government and a lineup of sympathetic callers and guests.
(Scroll down for more video and audio of the show)
In one of the show's weirder moments, Blagojevich even chatted with the comedian who plays him in The Second City's "Rod Blagojevich Superstar," a comedic spin on the politician's downfall that's a takeoff on the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar."
"I feel like Laurence Olivier meeting Hamlet. ... This is big for me, so it's a little surreal. I wonder how surreal this is for you?" comedian Joey Bland said.
Surreal, indeed, but just the latest twist in the Blagojevich saga, the downward spiral of a self-styled reformer whom lawmakers impeached and kicked out of office in January after his arrest on federal corruption charges.
"It was the fastest two hours I've ever spent. It went real fast. I wish I had more time," Blagojevich said afterward, mobbed by TV cameras outside the studio as he stopped to sign autographs.
Blagojevich filled in on WLS-AM's "Don Wade and Roma Morning Show," which has an average of 400,000 listeners, while the regular hosts were off this week.
Program director Bob Shomper, who said the former governor did a "wonderful job" for his first time, added that he might consider Blagojevich for future fill-in duty.
"He's definitely not afraid of the microphone," Shomper said.
The radio stint was likely a welcome diversion for Blagojevich as his criminal case is about to heat up. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has until April 7 to get a grand jury indictment or ask for an extension.
Blagojevich was arrested in December, accused of trying to sell or trade President Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat and attempting to pressure the Chicago Tribune to fire editorial writers who were calling for his impeachment. He denies wrongdoing.
Blagojevich said he wanted to be Fitzgerald when the Second City comedians asked what part he'd like to play in their spoof.
"I think I'd like to play the U.S. attorney, and I'd be real nice to the governor," Blagojevich said.
On air, Blagojevich was quick to poke fun at himself when the morning news anchor asked whether the radio headphones he was wearing would muss up his signature helmet of hair.
"I brought my brush. I can comb it as soon as we take a break. ... I'm not governor anymore; it's a smaller brush," Blagojevich said.
Blagojevich also acknowledged he was somewhat out of his element, quipping that hosting on radio was "harder than being governor." He grew more comfortable after flubbing his title as "former governor" when he introduced himself at the start of the show.
He went on to rant about being "hijacked" from office, claiming a "political fix" in which lawmakers wanted him out of office so they could raise taxes. He also criticized Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed income tax increase to fix an $11.5 billion deficit.
Quinn said he listened to about 30 minutes, and then told reporters at a news conference in Springfield: "He's yesterday's tomatoes."
On the radio, callers and guests gave Blagojevich a sympathetic ear, including CNN's D.L. Hughley, who has had Blagojevich as a guest on his show.
"I liked you right off. ... You didn't work out the way we wanted it to, but I think you'll land on your feet and things will get better from here," Hughley said.
Blagojevich alluded to his legal troubles, saying he had challenges ahead but had faith in the outcome.
"I'm going to trust in the truth and, as it says in the Bible, the truth shall set you free," he said.
Not one to miss a chance at self-promotion, Blagojevich also plugged the book he was writing about politics but joked the words weren't exactly flowing like water.
"I'm on page three," he said.
Listen to the show: