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CBS and ABC Tout Shoe-Thrower as 'Celebrity' and 'Folk Hero' --12/16/2008


1. CBS and ABC Tout Shoe-Thrower as 'Celebrity' and 'Folk Hero'
Usually rude protesters who disrupt events by throwing objects at state leaders don't earn media celebrations, but instead of being embarrassed by their Iraqi media colleague who, as he spewed venomous hatreds, dangerously threw his shoes at President Bush on Sunday in Baghdad, ABC and CBS on Monday night championed his popularity amongst Iraqis. ABC put "Folk Hero?" on screen as fill-in anchor Elizabeth Vargas trumpeted how Muntathar al-Zaidi has "become an instant celebrity to many of his countrymen" while CBS anchor Katie Couric hailed how "many Iraqis are calling him a hero" before reporter Elizabeth Palmer snidely concluded: "Al-Zaidi should do jail time, said the Iraqi bloggers, because he missed." From London, ABC's Jim Sciutto maintained: "Shoes have become a new symbol of anti-Americanism in the Arab world. And the Iraqi reporter who threw them, Muntathar al-Zaidi, a folk hero." Sciutto touted how "more than 100 lawyers volunteered to defend him. It was a heroic way to say goodbye to Bush, said one Iraqi." Though Sciutto at least noted how "some Iraqis are embarrassed," he countered: "Still, in news coverage, on new fan Web sites, in Arabic text messages, the overwhelming sentiment: giddy satisfaction."

2. ABC Hypes Cheney's 'Startling Admission' -- But What Was It?
Plugging how "Vice President Cheney sat down with ABC's Jonathan Karl for an exclusive interview," fill-in World News anchor Elizabeth Vargas on Monday night asserted Cheney "made a startling admission about the questioning of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks." But Vargas failed to explain what Cheney said to Karl that represented "a startling admission" and Karl didn't point out any "startling admission" from Cheney in the interview excerpt which followed the Vargas set up. In fact, Cheney didn't really say anything new as he stood by the "remarkably successful effort" to get intelligence from captured terrorists, affirmed the decision to waterboard KSM and denied he's "changed."

3. Cafferty Reads E-mail Comparing 'Gasbag' Limbaugh/Hannity to KKK
On Friday's The Situation Room on CNN, Jack Cafferty used his regular "Cafferty File" segment to attack Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives, citing Colin Powell's recent words criticizing Limbaugh's role in speaking for Republicans. After he quoted Powell's remarks, Cafferty clarified that Powell was "talking about that gasbag Limbaugh," and posed the question for viewers: "Should Republicans stop listening to Rush Limbaugh?" Later in the program, all the viewer e-mails he read were harshly critical of Limbaugh, with one even comparing him and Sean Hannity to the Ku Klux Klan. Cafferty, reading e-mail: "Connie in Chicago: '€˜Yes! Limbaugh is a far-right agitator of the worst sort with a 1950's mentality of what values 21st century America should reflect. I expect him and other like-minded Sean Hannitys of the world to step out of their closet and display their white sheets and dunce caps. Limbaugh is a bad joke.'"

4. ABC Hails Obama's 'Green Team,' Slams Bush's Climate 'Censorship'
Less than a week after a new report from the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee showcased hundreds of scientists who disagree with the United Nations' alarmist take on global climate change, ABC's World News on Sunday night featured a report devoted solely to cheering Barack Obama's new "green team" -- the promotional term was embraced by ABC News -- and laying the groundwork for radical action on global warming after what ABC termed "censorship" and "stonewalling" by the Bush administration. The story by ABC's Bill Blakemore offered a manipulative presentation, asserting that "wildfires, droughts and downpours [are] increasing exactly as predicted for global warming" -- but not mentioning that global temperatures are actually lower now than in 1998 -- and scolding how the Bush White House allowed "political assistants in their 20s to rewrite the conclusions of leading climate scientists" -- as if the liberal political opinions of scientists could not be second-guessed.

5. Time Magazine's Jay Carney Joins VP Joe Biden's Staff
After 20 years with Time magazine, where he's served since 2005 as Washington Bureau Chief, Jay Carney announced Monday he's going through the revolving door to join incoming Vice President Joe Biden's staff where he'll oversee press operations for the Democrat. Officially, Politico reported Monday, he'll hold the title of "assistant to the vice president and director of communications." Carney is married to ABC News correspondent Claire Shipman, a regular on Good Morning America, and the two used to appear regularly together on ABC's This Week.

6. In '05, Newsweek's Clift Hailed Blago as 'Cherubic,' Clintonesque
From the Wish I Could Take That Back file: Almost exactly three years ago, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift hailed Gov. Rod Blagojevich for his "fresh" approach to health care. He was "worth listening to," and with his "cherubic face," he reminded Clift of "another eager young governor, Bill Clinton circa '92." He was a rarity for daring to rest on a self-proclaimed "moral standpoint."


CBS and ABC Tout Shoe-Thrower as 'Celebrity'
and 'Folk Hero'

Usually rude protesters who disrupt events by throwing objects at state leaders don't earn media celebrations, but instead of being embarrassed by their Iraqi media colleague who, as he spewed venomous hatreds, dangerously threw his shoes at President Bush on Sunday in Baghdad, ABC and CBS on Monday night championed his popularity amongst Iraqis. ABC put "Folk Hero?" on screen as fill-in anchor Elizabeth Vargas trumpeted how Muntathar al-Zaidi has "become an instant celebrity to many of his countrymen" while CBS anchor Katie Couric hailed how "many Iraqis are calling him a hero" before reporter Elizabeth Palmer snidely concluded: "Al-Zaidi should do jail time, said the Iraqi bloggers, because he missed."

From London, ABC's Jim Sciutto maintained: "Shoes have become a new symbol of anti-Americanism in the Arab world. And the Iraqi reporter who threw them, Muntathar al-Zaidi, a folk hero." Sciutto touted how "more than 100 lawyers volunteered to defend him. It was a heroic way to say goodbye to Bush, said one Iraqi." Though Sciutto at least noted how "some Iraqis are embarrassed," he countered: "Still, in news coverage, on new fan Web sites, in Arabic text messages, the overwhelming sentiment: giddy satisfaction."

CBS Palmer, also from afar in London, asserted "al-Zaidi's become an instant hero. Today, thousands demonstrated for his release."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

# ABC's World News, as transcribed by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

ELIZABETH VARGAS: In the meantime, the man who threw his shoes at the President is in jail now facing charges of insulting a foreign leader. He could be sentenced to two years if he's convicted. And, although President Bush has made light of the incident, his attacker has become an instant celebrity to many of his countrymen. Here's our senior foreign correspondent, Jim Sciutto.

JIM SCIUTTO: One day later, shoes have become a new symbol of anti-Americanism in the Arab world. And the Iraqi reporter who threw them, Muntathar al-Zaidi, a folk hero. In Iraq today, thousands marched in support of his release, and more than 100 lawyers volunteered to defend him. It was a heroic way to say goodbye to Bush, said one Iraqi. Hitting someone with a shoe is a severe insult in the Arab world, suggesting the person is as low as dirt. It's how some Iraqis defiled Saddam Hussein's statue the day Baghdad fell in 2003. It's so insulting, in fact, that some Iraqis are embarrassed. "We Arabs are known for our hospitality," this man said. "Bush was a guest, and guests should be respected." Still, in news coverage, on new fan Web sites, in Arabic text messages, the overwhelming sentiment, giddy satisfaction. A Saudi man offered $10 million for the shoes.
JIHAD AL KHAZEN, AL HAYAT NEWSPAPER: He's the most popular person in the Arab world today. This is his 15 minutes of fame.
SCIUTTO: Al-Zaidi's act of defiance tapped into wider resentment in the Muslim world against the Iraq occupation, the war on terror, and the U.S. President they blame for it all. Tonight, al-Zaidi's brother put it this way: "Americans have been disrespecting and killing Iraqis for five years," he said. "It's time we paid them back." The shoe thrower himself hasn't lost any relatives, though his family says he was kidnapped once by militants. His cameraman said that just before he got up he handed him this note saying, "It's glorious to die a martyr." He survived, of course, and his story may live on as well. Jim Sciutto, ABC News, London.


# CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: President Bush is back at the White House tonight after visiting Iraq and Afghanistan over the weekend. A memorable trip, to say the least. In an image seen over and over on TV and the Internet, Mr. Bush had to duck twice during a Baghdad news conference when an Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at him. That reporter is behind bars tonight, but many Iraqis are calling him a hero. From Baghdad, here's Elizabeth Palmer.

ELIZABETH PALMER: Deep in Baghdad's Green Zone, the last thing President Bush expected was an air assault. The shoe thrower shouting "this is your good-bye kiss, you dog!" The President shrugged it off.
PRESIDENT BUSH: If you want the facts, it's a size 10 shoe that he threw.
PALMER: But in the Arab world, Muntathar al-Zaidi, who was quickly dragged away by Iraqi security guards, is huge news. In the Middle East, there's no bigger insult than hitting someone with a shoe, a dirty object worn on the lowest part of the body. By showing the kind of contempt formerly reserved for Saddam Hussein to President Bush, al-Zaidi's become an instant hero. Today, thousands demonstrated for his release.
Muntathar al-Zaidi is a local journalist for Iraqi television. He'd been arrested before, in error by American forces. That time he was let go. This time his family's been told he faces years in jail. "May God protect him" prays his sister while his nephew threatens retaliation against his jailers. There was more support on a Baghdad call-in show from Iraqis furious with President Bush in what they see as a botched U.S. occupation. On the Internet, shoe humor went viral. Al-Zaidi should do jail time, said the Iraqi bloggers, because he missed. Elizabeth Palmer, CBS News, London.

ABC Hypes Cheney's 'Startling Admission'
-- But What Was It?

Plugging how "Vice President Cheney sat down with ABC's Jonathan Karl for an exclusive interview," fill-in World News anchor Elizabeth Vargas on Monday night asserted Cheney "made a startling admission about the questioning of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks." But Vargas failed to explain what Cheney said to Karl that represented "a startling admission" and Karl didn't point out any "startling admission" from Cheney in the interview excerpt which followed the Vargas set up.

In fact, Cheney didn't really say anything new as he stood by the "remarkably successful effort" to get intelligence from captured terrorists, affirmed the decision to waterboard KSM and denied he's "changed." Apparently, the "startling admission" came in his acknowledgment, hardly unknown or not previously reported, that in "the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," he allowed: "I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, that is, as the agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do, and they talked to me as well as others to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it."

Shocker: Cheney supported a policy critics and backers have long identified with him.

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

ABCNews.com headlined the online version of the interview by twice using the same "hard line" phrase, "Exclusive: Cheney Holds Hard-Line Stance; In an Exclusive Interview with ABC News, Vice President Dick Cheney Opens Up About His Hard-Line Tactics." The posting cites no "startling admission" from Cheney. See: abcnews.go.com

Tuesday's Good Morning America will carry a longer interview excerpt.

From what aired on the Monday, December 15 World News, as provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

ELIZABETH VARGAS: And now back to Washington where Vice President Cheney sat down with ABC's Jonathan Karl for an exclusive interview. The Vice President talked about his role in controversial interrogation tactics used on terror suspects, and made a startling admission about the questioning of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

JONATHAN KARL: Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
DICK CHENEY: I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, that is, as the agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do, and they talked to me as well as others to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it. And there was a period of time there, three or four years ago, when about half of everything we knew about al-Qaeda came from that one source. So it's been a remarkably successful effort. I think the results speak for themselves.
KARL: In hindsight, do you think any of those tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others went too far?
CHENEY: I don't.
KARL: And on KSM, one of those tactics, of course, widely reported, was waterboarding, and that seems to be a tactic you no longer use. Even that, you think, was appropriate?
CHENEY: I do.
KARL: What do you say to those that say you've changed?
CHENEY: Well, the way I think of it in terms of whether or not I changed, I think a prime motivation for me in much of what I've done was 9/11. And have a changed? Well, not in a sense that I've gone through some, you know, fundamental psychological transition here. But I have been, since that day, focused very much upon what we needed to do to defend the nation. And I think the policies we've recommended, the programs that we've undertaken have been good programs. I think those have been sound decisions. And if that's what they mean by saying I've changed, I'm guilty.

Cafferty Reads E-mail Comparing 'Gasbag'
Limbaugh/Hannity to KKK

On Friday's The Situation Room on CNN, Jack Cafferty used his regular "Cafferty File" segment to attack Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives, citing Colin Powell's recent words criticizing Limbaugh's role in speaking for Republicans. After he quoted Powell's remarks, Cafferty clarified that Powell was "talking about that gasbag Limbaugh," and posed the question for viewers: "Should Republicans stop listening to Rush Limbaugh?" Later in the program, all the viewer e-mails he read were harshly critical of Limbaugh, with one even comparing him and Sean Hannity to the Ku Klux Klan. Cafferty, reading e-mail: "Connie in Chicago: '€˜Yes! Limbaugh is a far-right agitator of the worst sort with a 1950's mentality of what values 21st century America should reflect. I expect him and other like-minded Sean Hannitys of the world to step out of their closet and display their white sheets and dunce caps. Limbaugh is a bad joke.'"

Cafferty, whose regular "Cafferty File" segment itself is far from being a unifying feature of CNN's The Situation Room program, read e-mails that accused Limbaugh of "hateful rhetoric," "sociopathy," "inciting hate and fear," insulted Limbaugh's listeners as "ignorant," referred to Limbaugh "taking his happy pills," and suggested that moderate Republicans should "scrape" the conservative faction "from their shoes."

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Below is a transcript of relevant portions from the 6:00 p.m. EST hour of the Friday, December 12 The Situation Room on CNN:

JACK CAFFERTY: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is critiquing members of his own political party, and he's not mincing any words. In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Powell said the Republicans' attempt at polarization for political advantage backfired in the most recent election. You'll recall that Colin Powell crossed party lines and actually endorsed Barack Obama before the election, and he has since said that he's not interested in a position on the Obama team. Colin Powell said that Republicans have to, quote, "stop shouting at the world and at the country," unquote, saying the party needs to "take a hard look at itself." Powell said he was impressed by a recent article by Mort Kondracke in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call that asked the question, "Can we continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh?" Powell asked if this is the "kind of party" the Republicans really "want to be, when these kinds of spokespersons seem to appeal to our lesser instincts rather than our better instincts." Talking about that gasbag Limbaugh. So here's the question: Should Republicans stop listening to Rush Limbaugh? Here's a hint: Yes! Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile to post a comment on my blog. His currency, I think, in the wake of these recent election results has probably gone down a little bit.
WOLF BLITZER: I wonder if his ratings, though, have gone down.
CAFFERTY: I don't know.
BLITZER: He does really well, you know, with those listeners.
CAFFERTY: And his paycheck hasn't gone down.
BLITZER: No.
CAFFERTY: What, did he sign a $400 million contract to peddle that malarchy that he puts out every day?
BLITZER: He's got a lot of money.
CAFFERTY: Yeah.
...

CAFFERTY: Question this hour is: Should Republicans stop listening to Rush Limbaugh? Gina in Racine, Wisconsin: "If they want to stop being distracted by misplaced hatred and hyped up stories that turn their attention away from our country's real issues and if they want to come together and unite to make this country better, they will stop listening to Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly and Coulter.
Annie in Georgia writes: "It's only the most ignorant of them that put any credence in Limbaugh's hateful rhetoric, and sadly they can't help themselves, so they won't. But they should. He's toxic, and that becomes dangerous in such difficult times."
Ryan in Illinois: "I never thought of sociopathy as good entertainment, but Limbaugh does get paid a lot of money for inciting hate and fear. Basically, I just feel bad for those who listen to the man. Even after just a few minutes of him, I always feel dizzy and a little nauseated."
Connie in Chicago: "Yes! Limbaugh is a far-right agitator of the worst sort with a 1950's mentality of what values 21st century America should reflect. I expect him and other like-minded Sean Hannitys of the world to step out of their closet and display their white sheets and dunce caps. Limbaugh is a bad joke.
Joyce in Florida: "Other than Hannity and O'Reilly, I didn't know anyone did listen. Most people prefer to actually think."
Cynthia writes: "They ought to have done that a long time ago, especially when they found out about him taking his happy pills."
John in Massachusetts: "Telling a Republican to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh is akin to telling Pat Robertson to discontinue his alleged conversations with God."
And Jim in Vancouver, British Columbia: "Rush Limbaugh, always good for a laugh, but his followers now form the basis for a waning right-wing political faction. Moderate Republicans should scrape this faction from their shoes."

ABC Hails Obama's 'Green Team,' Slams
Bush's Climate 'Censorship'

Less than a week after a new report from the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee showcased hundreds of scientists who disagree with the United Nations' alarmist take on global climate change, ABC's World News on Sunday night featured a report devoted solely to cheering Barack Obama's new "green team" -- the promotional term was embraced by ABC News -- and laying the groundwork for radical action on global warming after what ABC termed "censorship" and "stonewalling" by the Bush administration.

Senate committee report: epw.senate.gov

The story by ABC's Bill Blakemore offered a manipulative presentation, asserting that "wildfires, droughts and downpours [are] increasing exactly as predicted for global warming" -- but not mentioning that global temperatures are actually lower now than in 1998 -- and scolding how the Bush White House allowed "political assistants in their 20s to rewrite the conclusions of leading climate scientists" -- as if the liberal political opinions of scientists could not be second-guessed.

[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

In two teases promoting the upcoming segment, anchor Dan Harris framed the issue exactly as do radical environmentalists:

# "After eight years of what many critics call censorship and delay on global warming, what can we expect now from Barack Obama's new 'green team?'"

# "And coming up here on the show, with wildfires, droughts and storms getting worse, Barack Obama is about to announce his team to take on what has been described as humanity's greatest problem."

The segment, which appeared about 20 minutes into the December 14 newscast, offered no hint of skepticism of climate change alarmists, nor any hint of how much the Obama administration's schemes to combat global warming will cost Americans in terms of lost jobs, lower GDP or higher taxes:

DAN HARRIS: Tomorrow, President-elect Barack Obama is going to officially unveil what has been called his '€˜green team.' After eight years of what critics call stonewalling by the Bush White House, we may now see some major changes when it comes to America's approach to global warming. ABC's Bill Blakemore takes '€˜A Closer Look.'

BARACK OBAMA (Internet video): Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high.
BILL BLAKEMORE: President-elect Obama, with U.S. wildfires, droughts and downpours increasing exactly as predicted for global warming, is declaring forcefully, he'll fight climate change head-on.
OBAMA (meeting with Al Gore): This is a matter of urgency, and national security.
OBAMA (Internet video): The science is beyond dispute, and the facts are clear.
BLAKEMORE: The Bush White House has been seen as hostile to facing the problem, even allowing political assistants in their 20s to rewrite the conclusions of leading climate scientists. A former Republican EPA chief says that by comparison-
WILLIAM REILLY (EPA chief under George H. W. Bush): We're about to see 180 degree shift in the priority give to climate change.
BLAKEMORE: Obama's new so-called green energy team includes scientists. For Department of Energy chief, a Nobel physicist, Steven Chu. He worked on technological innovations to fight global warming. For Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, a chemical engineer. She spent years winning environment regulations in state and federal government. And a new post, climate and energy czar, to coordinate both. Carol Browner, EPA chief under President Clinton. She won hard bureaucratic battles for tough air quality standards.
Another Republican former EPA chief admires the new team, but warns, it won't be easy in Congress.
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN (EPA chief under George W. Bush): This is not just a Republican/Democrat issue. This is a coal state issue versus non-coal state. I mean, people's livelihoods are heavily invested, in those states, in coal.
BLAKEMORE: The looming battle with fossil fuel companies, charge critics, comes after eight years of coal lobby dominance in the Bush administration.
REILLY: One high administration official told me that she had been told, stay out of the way of coal.
BLAKEMORE: Advisers say Obama expects that growing public concern will win popular support for his new '€˜green team.' Bill Blakemore, ABC News, New York.

Time Magazine's Jay Carney Joins VP Joe
Biden's Staff

After 20 years with Time magazine, where he's served since 2005 as Washington Bureau Chief, Jay Carney announced Monday he's going through the revolving door to join incoming Vice President Joe Biden's staff where he'll oversee press operations for the Democrat. Officially, Politico reported Monday, he'll hold the title of "assistant to the vice president and director of communications." Carney is married to ABC News correspondent Claire Shipman, a regular on Good Morning America, and the two used to appear regularly together on ABC's This Week.

Carney is the second prominent, national journalist to jump from journalism to the Obama-Biden team. In May, long-time CBS News and then ABC News Washington bureau reporter Linda Douglass signed aboard Barack Obama's presidential campaign as a "senior strategist and as a senior campaign spokesperson on the road." Douglass is now the spokesman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

May 22 CyberAlert item on Douglass: www.mediaresearch.org

For Politico's article, "Time's Jay Carney will be Biden aide," go to: www.politico.com

In '05, Newsweek's Clift Hailed Blago
as 'Cherubic,' Clintonesque

From the Wish I Could Take That Back file: Almost exactly three years ago, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift hailed Gov. Rod Blagojevich for his "fresh" approach to health care. He was "worth listening to," and with his "cherubic face," he reminded Clift of "another eager young governor, Bill Clinton circa '92." He was a rarity for daring to rest on a self-proclaimed "moral standpoint."

[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The Web-exclusive Clift column headline on December 16, 2005: "It's Big Issue Time; If Democrats want to draw a line between themselves and the Republicans on a topic people care about, they should look at the Illinois governor's fresh approach to health care." Clift was eagerly sharing Blago's enthusiasm:

For a party bereft of ideas, Blagojevich is worth listening to. His enthusiasm is contagious. He told NEWSWEEK that he feels like a method actor when he's talking about his All Kids program because he is so focused on the role of advocating its adoption. He likens it to the movement for public education that was started by Horace Mann in Massachusetts and became a universally accepted right.

"I believe in the long scope of history, we're going to look back and say 'Can you believe it was possible for children not to have health-care coverage?'" he says. With his shock of black hair and cherubic face, he is reminiscent of another eager young governor, Bill Clinton circa '92, even using much the same language about the forgotten middle-class that launched Clinton on the national scene.

SUSPEND Excerpt

Blagojevich was hailed for "bludgeoning" his own party into submission:

The Illinois legislature is controlled by Democrats, and every one of them voted for All Kids, but that doesn't mean passage was easy....it took a series of special sessions and overtime legislative bartering for Blagojevich to bludgeon his own party into backing him, and he got only one Republican vote in the Senate, a woman who is an unelected replacement legislator.

SUSPEND Excerpt

Clift concluded by suggesting Blagojevich was a role model for the Democrats -- on a "moral standpoint" of doing what's right for the people:

If Democrats want to draw a bright line between themselves and the Republicans on an issue people care about, health care for children is a good place to start. Republicans in Illinois called All Kids welfare and questioned why the state should subsidize people making $70,000 a year. "Because the state is subsidizing you, and you make substantially more money," Blagojevich says he responded, turning the question back on those asking it. His confrontational governing style has made him his share of enemies, including among those who were his friends. A prosecuting attorney in Chicago before he went into politics, Blagojevich enjoyed heavy financial support from trial lawyers. But after he was elected and faced with doctors leaving the state because of high malpractice insurance, he supported caps on malpractice awards. "From a political standpoint, it was a difficult decision," he says. "From a moral standpoint, it was easy." That's the kind of tradeoff rarely made in Washington.

END Excerpt

-- Brent Baker