It would be a cinch to switch voices from one foul-mouthed politico to another, so this is an effing golden opportunity. Blago is scheduled to report to the Big House on February 16 to serve his fourteen-year sentence for corruption, so Sinker could start out by predicting what the disgraced governor will do with his last precious weeks of freedom—lots of jogging, we presume. Once Blagojevich is locked up it’ll be easy to imagine his jailhouse pursuits: learning the harmonica, making license plates and desperately trying not to become ex-gov George Ryan’s bitch.
Audience choice: Richard Daley
Best audience comments: “@MayorDaley2020 A monday morning quarterback by Daley of Emanuel”; “Nothing can replace @MayorEmanuel ever. But I’d be ok with a Quaxelrod and Hambone joint twitter.”
Best of Chicago 2011
Host of Reading Rainbow
With the stench of Rod Blagojevich all over him, and the stink of the public humiliation of his wife over his affair with a blonde cocktail waitress, the only people who might actually listen to a word that comes out of Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s mouth now are the little ones, and since the children have been left without their beloved PBS show since 2006, this could be a match made for TV. Junior will always be remembered as a child of his legendary father and since most of the politico’s conversations have been laced with fiction, we think he’ll feel right at home in this new role. It’s not like he doesn’t have time to catch up on his reading.
Talk-show host, retirement (TIE)
Others that were mentioned a few times, amused us or seemed especially weird:
“Eliot Spitzer’s co-host”
Best of Chicago 2010
The holdout juror
Life imitated reality television this summer, as the trial of Rod Blagojevich returned the ex-governor to the daily news cycle for what everyone expected was one last hurrah, and the pistachio nuts spokesperson did not fail to entertain as he further exposed the bizarre workings of his seemingly maniacal hubris. Since he’d already been convicted in the court of public opinion, that business about trial by jury was just a rubber-stamp formality. Except, in a scene reminiscent of “12 Angry Men,” one lone juror could not be convinced of guilt on any of the twenty-four counts save one, resulting in a mistrial. For staying true to her conscience, the holdout juror was hunted by a rabid media like she was an escaped serial killer, or Steve Bartman even. Nevertheless, we all learned a couple lessons: one, that if you want our system of justice to work, you have to respect that it won’t always kowtow to your wishes, and two, there ain’t no law against being an idiotic goofball.
Others that were mentioned a few times, amused us or seemed especially weird: “Failed to take the stand after grandstanding over a year for ‘his day in court’ “; “When he ran into me outside of the courthouse and told me that he was going to ‘expose these lies’ ”
Best of Chicago 2010
Given the absolute disgrace that the office of governor has become in modern times, it’s something of a marvel that anyone wants it. Yet as we go to press, we count sixteen candidates—four Democrats, nine Republicans and three separate third-party candidates—for an election less than a year away. And with some candidates just getting into the race as we write, and positions on issues still being developed, it will be truly amazing if we end up with any kind of logical choice. While our current governor, Pat Quinn, has certainly not set the agenda on fire, and has come off as surprisingly wishy-washy on some reform issues, he is the kind of mavericky candidate that we would have looked for to clean up after the Ryan and Blagojevich years. (He was elected Lt. Governor on the Democratic ticket, but those two were far from friends.) His political legacy before now was defined as an outsider (as opposed to his principal Democratic opponent, Dan Hynes, son of longtime Chicago political leader Tom Hynes) and even a troublemaker to the powers that be: he helped organize the Citizens Utility Board and led the “The Coalition for Political Honesty” which successfully campaigned to reduce the size of the Illinois House. As his aspirations and his offices have reached higher levels, he’s seemed to lose some of his swashbuckling spirit, and we sometimes wonder if he’s not more effective on the outside tearing down the walls of power, but we’re ready to give him the benefit of the doubt, for now. After all, he not only inherited the same economic mess plaguing virtually every other state, but he also had to step into Rod Blagojevich’s shoes, which is like walking barefoot in a briar patch. But that question mark up there, after his name, means we’re a long way away from making up our mind.
Best of Chicago 2009
One of the most colorful Chicago memories of the last year was when reporters ambushed our former governor on the steps of his own house, just as he walked outside for a jog on a frigid winter’s afternoon. Even the image of him in his black running suit began popping up stenciled all over the city. Blago’s home—at 2934 West Sunnyside in the Ravenswood neighborhood—has become a destination spot for both those who want a tangible, realistic image to go with their own personal concepts of Chicago corruption, as well as those who are just looking for a laugh. “Oh! Those are the steps!” A light chuckle. “Wait. Is that really an American flag on his front porch?”
Best of Chicago 2009
Healthcare reform initiatives
We’d say that making fun of our impeached former governor was like shooting fish in a barrel, but that’s actually difficult by comparison. So we won’t dwell on the pathetic shambles that His Hairness left our top state office in. But let’s not forget that we elected that guy as governor—twice. There must have been some redeeming features? And there were, namely, a consistent track record on progressive issues, from education funding to anti-discrimination laws for gays and lesbians. But perhaps most resonant in these times was his effort to implement universal healthcare in Illinois, first through AllKids, which made Illinois the first state in the nation to offer affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every child. He then unsuccessfully tried to pass a universal healthcare plan, Illinois Covered, as well as FamilyCare, which offered coverage to low- and middle-income families. He was attacked for the perceived ambiguous funding of such endeavors, as well as his heavy-handed and grandstanding tactics. But it’s hard to deny that, with America on the verge of finally joining the civilized world on the healthcare front, that our ex-governor was a step ahead of his time.
Free transit rides for senior citizens
Best audience comments:
“Commitment to early childhood education programs”; “Appearing on stage as himself in his own Second City parody musical”; “Open Road Tolling expansion”; “Making Sarah Palin look like a competent person. That really is an accomplishment”; “Singing that Elvis song with the Fabio impersonator.”
Best of Chicago 2009
We’re not saying he’d necessarily be the best governor, but in this year’s contest Jim Ryan certainly comes in as the candidate most likely to end up with his own soap opera-or daytime talk show. In fact, he carries so much baggage you’ve got to appreciate his tale. Rewind to 1996, when Ryan is diagnosed with cancer-non-Hodgkin’s large-cell lymphoma. Six months later his youngest daughter, 12-year-old Anne Marie, suddenly dies as the result of an undetected brain tumor. Later that year, his wife Marie nearly dies after going into cardiac arrest. Read the rest of this entry »