It finally happened. After two and a half years of pleading with the public for a chance to be heard, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich finally took the stand today in his defense. As one would expect from his many media appearances, Blagojevich adamantly denied any wrongdoing, but also, according to press in the room, put the jury to sleep with an unnecessarily elongated biography that detailed his disco years and love of Elvis.
“I’m Rod Blagojevich. I used to be your governor, and I’m here to tell the truth,” Blagojevich began his testimony, with all the drama Illinois has learned to expect from the former Celebrity Apprentice star. NBC Chicago’s “The Ward Room” blog was gracious enough to live-tweet the testimony, as well as compile some of the best and worst of what is starting to look like a rather rambly testimony. Despite confessing that his daughter warned him “watch your language,” he couldn’t help but apologize to the jury for his profanity with even more profanity: “”When I hear myself on those tapes, I sound like a f*cking jerk and I apologize.”
He also, it is reported, went through every major occasion in his life: proposing to his wife, becoming governor of Illinois, and the day Elvis died. He also “talk[ed] fondly about disco and the ’70s,” for which his attorney asked him, “Are you still in that era with your hair?” And while humble about his grades in law school, Blagojevich boasted he was “the only governor in the United States who could spin a basketball on all five fingers of his right hand.”
If you’re asking yourself what any of this has to do with the charges of corruption and bribery related to Sen. Barack Obama‘s seat, you’re not alone– so are the prosecutors, who have objected repeatedly and requested the governor stay at least moderately on the topic at hand. At press time, reports don’t show any indication of that happening anytime soon.
The very, very bad news about all of this is that cameras are not allowed in the courtroom, so there is no actual footage of Blagojevich testifying, though the Chicago media, having been lukewarm on this topic as recently as a few weeks ago, have now once again been inspired to follow every word of the trial. And as for the national media, we now await with bated breath the response of one Shepard Smith, who took nothing less than glee at covering the first Blagojevich trial and expressed more grief than anyone at the conclusion of the first trial when the former governor refused to testify on his behalf.
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