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Ranger Rich

During his years as Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich did terrific impersonations of Elvis Presley. Now, as the convicted felon nears the end of his first week in a Colorado federal prison, it's possible that his repertoire includes yet another Presley: Priscilla.

OK, now that we've gotten that awkward issue of prison man-rape out of the way in a mature manner, let's have a serious, responsible discussion about the shaggy-haired former Illinois governor — with my firm pledge not to make any further juvenile comments about prison romance. Unless I think of some.

(Ooohh. I bet tonight when Blagojevich belts out the big Elvis hit "Don't Be Cruel" he does it in an emotional, almost pleading sort of way.)

Blagojevich — inmate No. 40892-424 at the federal prison in the Denver suburb of Englewood — was convicted on a mere 18 felony counts, including charges that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's vacant former U.S. Senate seat.

The charge of trying to peddle a Senate seat, as you know, caused popular radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh to call Mother Teresa a "filthy whore," although later, under intense advertising pressure, Limbaugh apologized to his highly educated radio audience, saying what he meant was that Eleanor Roosevelt and Indira Gandhi were filthy whores.

Seriously, Blagojevich became the second consecutive Illinois governor imprisoned for corruption, joining Irish-American ex-gov George Ryan, who's in prison in Indiana and celebrated St. Patrick's Day this year by — to use the old Irish expression — "playing with his leprechaun."

Footnote: Current Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has no plans to go to prison, a sentiment echoed by his chief of staff, Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo.

At Blagojevich's trial, FBI wiretaps revealed a cursing governor talking about the chance to peddle the vacant senate seat after Obama was elected president, saying the opportunity was "f---ing golden."

(Clarification: Golden is also a Denver suburb and should not be confused with the town where Blagojevich is imprisoned: f---ing Englewood.)

Before coming to our state, Blagojevich, 55, stood outside his Chicago home and told reporters, "I'm leaving with a heavy heart, a clear conscience and I have high, high hopes for the future."

He then rode a stick horse around the block while bellowing, "AND HERE COMES SECRETARIAT..." before aides could get the anti-schizophrenia medication under his tongue, wrestle him into the car and take him to the airport.

No, really, the craziest scene took place in Colorado where, just hours before reporting to prison, Blagojevich was grinning and laughing — just like that magical day when he was 32 years old and finally learned how to pronounce his own name (rr-OD).

Our local daily newspaper, the Denver Post, ran a front-page photo of him at Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers in Littleton. The picture shows Blago crouched at a table where three startled-looking teenaged boys posed awkwardly with a guy they didn't know — unless you count warnings from their parents about that kind of a guy and candy.

Here's just one of the joys Blagojevich is likely experiencing, from the Associated Press: "To cope in prison, ex-cons say, Blagojevich must master unwritten prison codes. Among them ... never gaze at other inmates for longer than a second or two, lest they take the stares as a sign of aggression."

Then, as I understand it, everyone pees on a fire hydrant and they walk off as a pack, looking for cats — or career politicians with pretty teeth.

Maybe, if there's an inter-prison social, Blagojevich will even get to meet our village's own Doug Bruce, a fellow liar and thief, who's serving six months in the Denver County Jail. Blago and Doug could talk about what kind of greasy, slick lubricant they like to use. You know, in their hair.

Anyway, prison officials say Blagojevich will share a cell the size of a large walk-in closet with as many as three other inmates.

I bet they can talk their roommate into singing other big Elvis hits such as "Stuck on You (And I Hope the Guards Don't Catch Us)" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight (Like It Really Matters)?"

And, of course, Elvis' 1956 blockbuster, "Love Me Tender (And I'll Give You Some Cigarettes)."

rangerrich@csindy.com

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