Pull out the popcorn, folks. The best show in town gets underway in Springfield this week. "I will prove my innocence and I will testify," declared former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich last week as he left the courtroom that is the scene of his corruption trial.
Blago has, since his arrest, proved himself an entertainer par excellence with his impromptu Elvis impersonation at a Chicago block party, his unintentionally comedic lecture at Northwestern University on political ethics and, of course, his appearance on Celebrity Apprentice.
That's not the reason Blago's lawyers have encouraged him to take the stand, though.
Over the past five weeks, the prosecution has played plenty of excerpts from tapes in which the former governor appears to be bartering Barack Obama's former Senate seat for political favors. (These are also available as ringtones.)
"In my experience, in a criminal case, when the defendant chooses to testify, it changes the whole dynamic of the case. It becomes a one-witness case," lead prosecutor Patrick Collins told the Post-Dispatch. "It's absolutely a high-stakes gambit. Some might say it's a Hail Mary pass."
The linchpin in Blago's defense appears to be that none of his schemes actually worked out and the former governor and his wife Patti must now eke out a modest living by appearing on reality TV shows.
No word yet on whether Blago, when he takes the stand, will resort to his longstanding habit of declaiming Victorian-era poetry.
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