Blagojevich Joins School for Scandal; Americans Riveted, Poll Shows
Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
It could be his Chicago-style audacity or the sheer breadth of the investigation. Maybe it's just the hair, or those snappy new ringtones.
Blagotones, that is.
The recent arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on corruption charges riveted public interest more than any national political scandal in the past decade, save one. Only revelations in 1998 that President Bill Clinton had dallied with his intern, Monica Lewinsky, drew more attention, according to a Pew Research Center analysis released Thursday.
The roster of shame is ultimately topped, however, by Rubbergate, the 1992 investigation of 450 lawmakers who regularly overdrew their checking accounts; 19 Democrats and three Republicans were singled out by the House ethics committee.
The analysis itself has quantified American fascination with infamy.
The rankings are based on ongoing weekly surveys of 1,000 adults, asking them to gauge their interest in news coverage of dubious events - which include the Monkey Business affair between Sen. Gary Hart and Donna Rice in 1987, the resignation of New York Gov. Eliott Spitzer earlier this year after he consorted with a prostitute, and the seemingly endless Whitewater investigation of Mr. Clinton's business dealings in 1994.
Mr. Clinton, in fact, appears three times on the list, which includes 24 assorted scandals that unfolded in the past 16 years.
These days, it's Mr. Blagojevich's turn. The researchers found that two-thirds of the nation - 64 percent - say they are closely following his public tribulations, prompted by an FBI investigation with all the trimmings, and calls for his impeachment or incarceration. But there is much more.
The governor's unapologetic penchant for black leather jackets and a shaggy coif has inspired such prose as Hot Rod Blagojevich and Hair Club for Sasquatch in the waggish press, and discussed ad nauseam. …