0

The School for Scandal Version 2.1 - Will Durst

A politician making lemonade, after being pelted by a bushel of media-chucked lemons, is as familiar as red yarn on the handle of a black bag on the luggage carousel at O'Hare.

But few alive have seen the likes of Rod Blagojevich. Not content to stir up a nice, cold pitcher or erect a simple stand, the former Illinois governor is challenging Minute Maid's supremacy in the field of citrus concentrate.

Refusing to exit the stage quietly afte being removed from office, he instead has gone on the offensive. Some might argue the 52-year-old Democrat has given a whole new meaning to the word "offensive."

His fruity crusade began after being impeached by the Illinois Assembly on a vote of 114- 1, leaving many to wonder: Who the hell was the 1? His barber?

No. Turns out it was his sister-in-law. After all, she's got years of cranberries and stuffing to share with the guy. Then, in spite of delivering an impassioned-yet-loopy closing argument, the State Senate voted 59-0 to convict, and booted Blago right off his gubernatorial perch into the long, snaking lines of the newly unemployed.

Because of his inspirational theatrics, every former playbook for arrogant politicians accused of scandal and disgrace has to be thrown out the window.

So, if you ever find yourself caught dead to rights, here's a revised list of the top 10 actions to take. The classics still apply. None of the following will work without being applied to a base of: deny, deny, deny.

Remember, this is about survival. Follow Master Blagojevich's lead. Chances are he will make more from his book deal than he ever hoped to extort from his constituent victims.

10. Hold a press conference to read a poem. Stay away from the arty crowd like Verlaine, Rimbaud or Sylvia Plath. Pick a heterosexual who didn't commit suicide. Someone classy, like Kipling.

9. Remember who is the victim here. You are. Claim a vast left or right wing conspiracy. The more fantastic the presumed motivation, the better, such as: they had to get rid of you in order to raise taxes. Or they kicked you out because you knew too much.

8. Two words: The View.

7. During all media appearances, carry a Bible. If no one's going to buy that, try Winston Churchill. A book by him. Not desiccated pieces of his mummified corpse.

6. Witch Hunt. Keep repeating the phrase: Witch Hunt. Which hunt? This hunt? That's right. Witch Hunt. Occasionally throw in an "unconstitutional" as well, just to break it up.

5. Compare the effect on your family to a national disaster. Pearl Harbor. RFK's assassination. The day CBS canceled "Dallas."

4. Keep telling the press that you CAN'T WAIT to tell your side of the story. Then never, ever, ever get tricked into telling your side of the story.

3. Can never go wrong blaming lawyers. Fire one of your defense attorneys. "Though convinced of my innocence, he was terrified to offend the powers that be."

2. Lump yourself in with other oppressed leaders like Gandhi. Nelson Mandela. Martin Luther King. Joseph Stalin. Hah. Last one was a test.

1. Finally, the number one reason you can't quit is you don't want to send the wrong message to your children. "This is not about me. This is about standing up for the kids. And the elderly."

Will Durst is a political comic who occasionally writes a little. This is one of those times.

Will has performed around the world and is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail him at durst@caglecartoons.com.