The Illinois State Senate wants to put their governor, the thick-haired Rod Blagojevich, on trial today in the hopes of removing him from office. But Blago's not having any of that, and instead is taking to the TV to launch a multi-channel charm offensive designed to show that he deserves the opportunity to be tried in the manner laid down by the Ancient Order of Cowboys, which stipulates that all cattle rustlers have the opportunity to call Rahm Emanuel as a witness. Or something. It's not clear what, if anything, Blago will accomplish by going on all these shows today -- other than the fact that Diane Sawyer will probably not be yelling at him in disbelief like Chicago's print reporters are. In addition to Good Morning America, Blago has plans to appear on Today (who broadcast the first part of their sit down with Blago yesterday), Larry King Live tonight, and ABC's The View. But first, Good Morning America.
Sawyer asks Blago to "address the charges," specifically the charge that Blago attempted to sell President Barack Obama's Senate seat "like a sports agent shopping for the highest bidder." Blago responds that he "absolutely did not" do anything of the kind, and that he'll have the chance in a criminal trial to bring witnesses to help obscure the truth sufficiently -- well ... those are my words, but anyway. The impeachment trial has different rules that Blago now doesn't like. Sawyer doesn't care about trial procedure, though. Instead she reads him back some of his profanity and his threat to take the Senate seat for himself. "Did you say these things?" Sawyer asks.
"I can't get into specifics of the case," Blago says, running his other play. There's "a process," and "discussions" and "a underlying idea" that he was going to try to "end up in a place where he could do the most for the people of Illinois." Because, you see, all the others elected official -- especially in the State Senate -- are howling lyconthropes that want to take away health care and stuff.
Sawyer points out that it seems to be more about something else. That something else? Well, let's just say that various English poets have referred to it as "dolla dolla bill, y'all." What about this whole thing about getting your wife placed in a cushy six-figure job, Sawyer asks. "They took snippets of conversation, out of context," Blago replies, adding that he just wanted to create jobs and health care. Sawyer, is all: "Really? Explain the context!" "Again," Blago says, "I can't go into the details of the case. I wish that I could bring the evidence to show exactly what those conversations were." And he's back to health care and reducing taxes.
Blago keeps it up. "Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?" Waaah. Me needs to have my witnesses. Sawyer points out that he's already missed the deadline. Blago's starting to shift around in the seat. He can't get into specifics about the case ... but he keeps attempting to make the specific case that all the unseemly horse trading was just part of an effort to "leverage a result" so that he could "pass a public works program and hold the line on taxes."
"I'm here talking to Americans, to let them know what's happening in the land of Lincoln," Blago says. "If they can do this to a sitting governor ... I'd like to call Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett...they can do that to you!" And he's right! If any American, while serving as the Governor of Illinois, comes under suspicion and is impeached, they won't get granted the special dispensation to call Rahm Emanuel as a witness. ARE YOU FEELING THE CHILLING EFFECT, AMERICA.
"The fix is in!" Blago insists, repeating the desire to badger Rahm Emanuel.
What about the criminal proceedings? Blago says he knows the truth and that it's gotten lost. Actually, what's gotten lost is that Blago's problems run well past the accusations of Senate-seat pay-for-play.
Now Blago is quoting poetry again! "If" by Rudyard Kipling, which specifically addresses the way a conversation filled with profanity, caught on a wiretap, can be taken out of context.
"I'm fighting to the very end for something much larger than me," Blagojevich says.
Oh, also, Oprah: The governor said that Oprah's name came up as a potential successor to Obama in the Senate. "She seemed to be someone who had helped Barack Obama in a significant way to become president," Blagojevich said. Blagojevich added that "she had a much broader bully pulpit than a lot of senators."
His consideration of Oprah was tempered, he suggested, by that fact that "she probably wouldn't take it, and then if you offered it to her, how would you do it in a way it wasn't a gimmick to embarrass her." And you don't risk embarrassing Oprah when you still haven't booked her sho on your innocence tour.
Well, he's going to get his chance to keep making that fight, because Sawyer is going to pit Blago against Matt Murphy, one of those Illinois State Senators!
Murphy says Blago's criticisms are "self-serving statements" and the rules have been patterned on the Clinton impeachment. But Blago says that's not true, that Bill Clinton got to call witnesses like Vernon Jordan. Blago wants to call witnesses! Sixth Amendment! Chilling effect! Rahm Emanuel! Cowboys! "If they can do it in Illinois, they can do it here in New York!" Blaaaah! Watch out, America! The Illinois State Senate is coming to your state, to slightly adjust the procedural process for the impeachment of state officials!
Blago attempts to make his case that this impeachment is REALLY about all the awesome things he's done for the people of Illinois that the legislature didn't like. Murphy, however, looks Zen calm, listening to Blago prattle on and on and on. "Let's try to work through all of that red herring he just served us all for breakfast," he tells Sawyer, adding that there's a difference between taking away a person's liberty, and taking away a person's job. In terms of witnesses, Murphy says, the impeachment proceedings defer to the criminal investigation. Both sides of the impeachment trial are limited where witnesses are concerned.
More than that, Murphy notes that the State Senate has lowered the standards for the admission of evidence. If Blagoejvich wants to include statements from Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett, he can. He calls the Governor's accusations "self serving and ludicrous." Blago insists that "the fix is in," because they want a big tax increase.
Anyway, tune in later today, when Blago attempts to subpoena Joy Behar as a witness.