3:30 p.m. ET: We interrupt our ongoing coverage of the depressing auto bailout to bring you this special report on a stunningly good scandal story. We'd like to thank our sponsor, Rod Blagojevich, without whom our lives would be a little less rich this afternoon.
Where to begin? The Blagojevich case has so many facets -- the Obama replacement angle, the pressuring the Tribune angle, the bad hair angle -- that it can be tough to sort through everything if you don't have time to read all the charges. So here's an abbreviated reading list:
• Here's a useful timeline of the whole case, going back more than four years. It's really complicated, and involves a lot of people paying Blagojevich for various things. He never, as far as we know, hung a banner outside the governor's mansion saying, "I Am Corrupt," but he may as well have.
• Here's an illuminating profile of Blagojevich that Chicago magazine ran back in February. Note the part where people who know the governor call him a "sociopath," a "madman" and "insane." (Hat tip, Eric Zorn.)
• Here's a breakdown of what mysterious Senate Candidate 5 is alleged to have done and not done. Does this person have a good lawyer yet?
• Here is the article that may set a new record for crossed-out expletives. Blagojevich's wife sounds like a real charmer herself. What an appealing couple.
• And here's a reminder of the last governor to resign in scandal, Eliot Spitzer, who stepped down in March. If Blagojevich goes, he would be the 23rd governor to do so in U.S. history. Probably not the kind of record he wanted to set.
8 a.m. ET: Are we about to nationalize the auto industry? The question doesn't seem so far-fetched, as Congress and the Bush administration inch closer to a bailout deal that "would give the U.S. government a substantial ownership stake" in the Big Three automakers and a guiding role, via a newly created oversight position, in how they're managed.
How about Al Gore for auto czar? There's zero evidence that he would be a candidate for the post, but the former vice president's planned meeting with Barack Obama in Chicago has given rise to all manner of speculation. Yes, the jobs of energy secretary and EPA administrator are open, but the odds that Obama would put Gore in either of those jobs look to be roughly nil. Don't waste any precious brain fuel by even thinking about it, though it's always possible he could be given some other new title like "Energy Czar."
Republicans are today heavily focused on their own future, likely because their recent past has been pretty depressing. Joseph Cao's surprising win in Louisiana has given the party an accidental new hero, and the fact that almost no one in the national GOP helped Cao get elected or even knew who he was before Saturday hasn't stopped Republicans from touting his victory as evidence of ... well, evidence of something. Potential new party slogan: "When there's a runoff in a district still recovering from a hurricane, with really low turnout, and the Democrat is under indictment, and no one is paying attention, we can win!"
Even if the GOP is getting its groove back, the party will still be in the minority for awhile, which means Republicans will have to join 3 million regular people in watching Obama's Inauguration festivities as spectators, not participants.
That means most Republicans will have to scrounge rides on chartered buses, find hotel rooms, leave the kids at home and, more than likely, watch Oprah on television rather than attending in person at the Kennedy Center. The whole day is shaping up to be a logistical nightmare. Perhaps Obama could name an Inauguration Czar.
December 9, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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