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Remember when Rod Blagojevich was so obscure that The Daily Show made a joke out of not being able to pronounce his name? The reporter gave up after a few tries, finally calling him “Governor Smith.”
Now, everyone in America can say “Blagojevich,” but the act that made his name -- allegedly trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat -- also cost him his power.
On Wednesday, Blagojevich once again grinned through his humiliation by delivering the Top Ten List on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” It was a promo for his appearance on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” which premieres Sunday night. The washed-up politician will join washed-up singers, actors and a wrestler in trying to win a job with Donald Trump.
Before and after the taping, Blagojevich’s agent tweeted the ex-governor’s day. He posted footage of Blago signing autographs and arriving to “throngs o cameras,” noted that “#Blagojevich saw and said hello to Jessica Simpson in studio…” and concluded “He did great! Audience laughed... Top Ten really funny. Gov was relaxed, poised and delivered Top 10 flawlessly.”
Letterman greeted Blagojevich with a hair joke, asking him to “take off your hat and stay awhile.” (A great head of hair is essential in show biz. That’s why our previous disgraced governor, the graying George Ryan, never captured the national imagination.)
But Blagojevich didn’t even get good material from Letterman’s writers. Among the lines:
3. Can I get paid in conditioner?
2. How about my own show, The Haircut Ref?
1. Will my hair get along with Trump’s hair?
Perhaps the best clue as to Blago's motivation in continually seeking this spotlight of humiliation comes from as-yet-unused "Celebrity Apprentice" promo footage:
“I remember a conversation I had with Sonny Bono and how right he was when he said here we are on the floor of the United States Congress in D.C. and we’re passing the laws that govern our country,” Blagojevich muses. “And yet if virtually every one of these members of Congress were to get on an airplane, and if an entertainer, a musician or a singer or a professional athlete were to get on the airplane, most people would identify with the entertainer, the singer the athlete ... and the congressman, they wouldn't even know who that person might be. And so in many respects, this is a different kind of arena where the individuals have a bigger following than many of the individuals who try to govern the country.”
But unlike Bono and Ronald Reagan, who used B-grade celebrity to get into politics, Blagojevich went from politics to B-grade celebrity. Now when he gets on an airplane, every one of his fellow passengers thinks, “I’ve seen that hair before.”
I’ll bet he’d rather have his obscurity back.