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Erica Heller Headshot

Blago Is My Embarrassing Uncle Who Won't Shut Up

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We all have one. (Well, at least one.)

The relative who makes you and your whole family cringe every time he opens his mouth at family gatherings. He's the reason why you'd be too mortified to invite your boyfriends, your pals and work colleagues to these occasions. Every year you pray that he won't show up and every year he is inevitably the first one there and the last to leave. He is the Beast Who Spoils Christmas. And Easter. And birthdays. And bar mitzvahs. He's so creepy, he even gives funerals a bad name.

He has bad jokes, bad breath, bad clothes and bad manners. He brags and lies. Chews with his mouth open. Maybe he drinks too much and runs his mouth off, gets maudlin, sings bawdy army songs off-key, stares at all the female chests when he talks to the women. Or if he is terribly versatile, all of the above.

Until I saw Blago this week, I thought the prize for chutzpah would surely go to John Cleese's girlfriend, for nipping about 157 years off her public age. But now, watching Blago, the narcissistic, wacko windbag, as he blazes through an appalling chunk of air time this week, it's been pretty hard to avoid that creeping, familial feeling of rage, shame and scalding irritation. He definitely takes the proverbial cake. No, I've never met the guy and no, I'm not even from Illinois, but how does such a self-important, lying, crass and dishonest dingbat make it into government in the first place, let alone get elected repeatedly? (There are definitely shades of that other buffoon here, the one who almost wrecked the whole world, that Texan tin-head, remember him?) What is he doing there and why does he have to be removed? Why was he there in the first place? This is something way beyond chutzpah, way past an embarrassing relative chained in the attic and banging on the pipes.

Blago is like human Luminol, or whatever that stuff is called that they paint on surfaces on crime shows when they want to detect secret traces of blood. The lights are turned off and there is the dazzling, irrefutable truth, in all of its hideous, day-glo glory.

Blago represents so much of what's wrong with this country and everything that needs to be saved and changed and fixed. I am not responsible for him but still, I feel ashamed, repelled, burn holes in my shoes from staring too hard at them when he speaks, and wish his taxi would arrive already to shut him up and take him home.