CHICAGO - Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich filled in as a radio talk show host Wednesday, using the mike to complain he was "hijacked" from office and blasting the new governor's plans for an income tax increase.
Blagojevich had a two-hour gig on WLS-AM, filling in on the "Don Wade & Roma Morning Show" because the regular hosts are off this week.
Blagojevich, who was thrown out of office in January, is a talk show novice and he acknowledged it, stumbling over his title and quipping that hosting was "harder than being governor."
But he quickly got more comfortable as the show wore on. He talked on the air with CNN's D. L. Hughley, ABC News' Ann Compton and Second City performers who do a comedy spoof on him.
Blagojevich used the show as a platform to criticize the lawmakers who kicked him out of office after his arrest on federal corruption charges. He suggested the lawmakers really just wanted him out of the way so they could raise the income tax.
"I was hijacked from office. . . . It was a political fix and I predicted that," Blagojevich said.
His successor, Gov. Pat Quinn, wants to increase the income tax rate by 50 per cent to fix a US$11.5 billion deficit. Blagojevich said it's the worst thing Illinois could do because it would hurt small businesses.
He took comments from callers who seemed to agree, and wound up the show by thanking listeners "for giving me a chance to have been your governor for six years. . . . I wish I was still there so I could fight for you."
For his part, Quinn said he tuned in for part of the show, but dismissed his predecessor's criticism and called Blagojevich "yesterday's tomatoes."
Federal prosecutors have until April 7 to get a grand jury indictment or seek more time. Said Blagojevich: "I'm going to trust in the truth, and as it says in the Bible, the truth shall set you free."
The former governor also took a moment to plug the book he's writing, but admitted it isn't coming easily. He joked about being only a few pages into it.