Rod Blagojevich sees his legal tribulations as his personal "tsunami," the impeached Illinois governor told listeners Wednesday during a four-hour stint as guest host of a popular Chicago radio show.
The upbeat, sometimes self-deprecating Blagojevich clearly reveled in speaking to the large morning-drive audience, some of whom could end up in the jury box when his corruption retrial begins next month. The 54-year-old told WLS-AM's listeners that his legislative detractors had targeted him well before his 2008 arrest and subsequent ouster as the state's top executive.
"Lawmakers wanted to throw me out of office long before I, you know, I had my tsunami happen to me," he said. At another point, he said, "I was hijacked from office."
Blagojevich spokesman Glenn Selig released a statement later Wednesday, saying the ex-governor never intended to compare aspects of his life to the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last week.
"He used the word `tsunami' as a metaphor to describe how the world crashed around him. ... It would be absurd to suggest the current catastrophe is anything like the events in his life," it said.
Blagojevich was joined by his wife, Patti Blagojevich, for the last hour of the 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. show as he filled in for the regular hosts of WLS-AM's "Don Wade and Roma." His wife complained about what she described as her husband's unfair treatment by U.S. prosecutors.
"What's this selective prosecution?" she asked.
At his first trial last year, a jury convicted Rod Blagojevich of lying to the FBI. They deadlocked on 23 other charges, including that he tried to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat for a top job or campaign cash. His retrial on 20 charges is set to start April 20.
Asked by one caller about the lone conviction, Blagojevich maintained his innocence.
"I did not lie to the FBI," he said. "I'm seeking vindication."
Blagojevich only briefly touched on the criminal case during Wednesday's show, instead, hammering on the theme _ how Illinois lawmakers are now supposedly sticking it to the average Joe.
He described current Gov. Pat Quinn and leaders in the Illinois Hose and Senate as "scoundrels" for pushing through an income tax increase. And he called one top legislator a "rapscallion."
In announcing Blagojevich's appearance early this week, WLS joked it would have a bleep button cued up as he went on air, a reference to his penchant for profanity displayed on FBI wiretaps played at his first trial.
Blagojevich poked fun at himself while talking to his wife during the show, alluding to his most infamous comment on the recordings that the leverage Obama's vacated seat offered him was, "(bleeping) golden."
"Patti, you'll be proud of me. ... Not one single swear word," he told her. "It's f'ing golden how I'm doing here, refraining from some of those bad words."