The untold truth of Rod Blagojevich

President Donald Trump granted clemency to 11 convicted criminals on Feb. 18, 2020, including former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, a longtime Democrat. Blagojevich — aka "Blago" — was originally sentenced to 14 years in federal prison in 2011 after he allegedly tried to solicit bribes for political appointments, including President Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat in 2008. "I've got this thing and it's f***ing golden," Blagojevich said about Obama's seat in recordings obtained by government agents, per Salon. "I'm not just giving it up for f***in' nothing."

It's not uncommon for presidents to commute sentences for controversial figures, but the Chicago native stands out due to his arguably eccentric personality and past antics, which includes a stint on Trump's very own Celebrity ApprenticeThen there's the topic of the ex-governor's appearance, especially where it concerns his big mop of hair. It's hard to describe the look in a few words, but the Elvis-inspired 'do supposedly had its own Twitter feed and was the subject of late-night jokes, as ABC News noted in its 2012 article, "As Blagojevich Heads to Prison, What Will Become of His Hair?"

Now that Blagojevich and his iconic hair have been set free, questions about this newly self-identified "Trumpocrat" are running rampant. We deliver all the untold dirt on Blago after the jump. 

Rod Blagojevich's Serbian roots run deep

Rod Blagojevich was born in Chicago, Ill., but his mom, Millie Govedarica, hailed from Bosnia while his dad, Rade Blagojevich, immigrated from Serbia. Serbian culture played a big role in the former governor's childhood, with his dad insisting that he and his brother, Robert Blagojevich, "attend Serbian school to learn his country's history and culture," as a profile in Chicago Magazine noted. Rade was also intent on Rod and his brother adopting a "love of freedom and hatred of Communism," as the convicted felon expressed to the outlet. It wasn't unusual for Rod and his brother to lug their tamburicas — aka "Serbian instruments that resemble mandolins" — to their neighborhood bus stop, a predicament he admittedly didn't enjoy. "I'm going to get my a** kicked if somebody in the neighborhood sees me with this," Blagojevich recalled thinking as a child. 

Rade, who relentlessly tried to make it in America, wanted to instill the same work ethic in his kids. One evening, for instance, the dad took Rob and Rod to the steel factory where he worked so they could experience its stifling furnaces. "This is how hard I work," he told the boys in Serbian, per Chicago Magazine. "This is how hot it is here. You guys can choose to work like this. It's honorable work. You can make a good living. Or you can choose to be good in school and be a gentleman."

Rod Blagojevich used this line to win over his wife

Rod Blagojevich wed his wife, Patricia Mell "Patti" Blagojevich, in 1990. Patti has stuck by his side throughout the scandal and his incarceration, stating in a December 2018 interview with Fox News (via Mother Jones), "It's a very dirty business when these prosecutors, with their unchecked power and no oversight at all, can go after any politician." 

The financial advisor's allegiance to her husband shouldn't be surprising to anyone who is familiar with the pair's love story, which began in 1988 when a 31-year-old Rod attended a political fundraiser for her dad, former Chicago City Council member Alderman Richard Mell, per Chicago Magazine. Patti, who was 23 at the time and had recently broken up with a boyfriend, immediately caught Blago's attention. Knowing he wanted to date Mell's daughter, the former politician used an arguably cheesy line to get her attention, telling her at the time, "If you go out with me, I'm going to show you the time of your life." Oh boy.

It's clear Patti fell for Rod's line because they're still married, as of this writing, and share two kids together. Love works in mysterious ways, people.

No love for Obama

Rod Blagojevich once said that he's "blacker than" President Barack Obama. Yep, that's right. The former governor made the eyebrow-raising comments in a 2010 interview with Esquire in which he railed on Obama. "This guy, he was catapulted in on hope and change, what we hope the guy is," Blago said, adding, "What the f**k? Everything he's saying's on the teleprompter. I'm blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up." Yikes.

Blagojevich later apologized for the shocking remarks, stating, per The Chicago Tribune, "What I said was stupid, stupid, stupid ... I deeply apologize for the way that was said and having said it. Obviously, I am not blacker than President Obama." 

What's interesting is the two were familiar with one another before the political scandal, as Obama reportedly served as "top advisor" on Blagojevich's 2002 gubernatorial campaign, per Politico. And the former president reportedly told the AP about the then-governor in 2006 (via Politico), "We've got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois."

Now that Blagojevich has said he's a "big fan" of President Donald Trump, we doubt his feelings about Obama will change anytime soon.

Rod Blagojevich's daughter is a chip off the old block

Criticism of President Barack Obama must run in the family because Rod Blagojevich's eldest daughter, Amy Blagojevich, slammed him in a January 2017 letter reportedly shared via her mom's Facebook account. Amy, who was seemingly upset Obama didn't grant her father clemency on his way out of office, wrote in part (via ABC7 Chicago), "Everyone seems to be mourning your exit from office. I'm glad you're gone. I'm not delusional — you're not a saint. You were a mediocre president with unoriginal ideas." She continued, "I want you to know how disappointed I am. I didn't want to despise you ... I truly thought you were a good person. I guess I was just as brainwashed as everyone else. At least now I can see the blood on your hands. You can keep washing them, but they'll never be clean." Phew. Tell us how you really feel, Amy.

President Donald Trump referenced Blago's loved ones on Feb. 18, 2020, stating to the press, per ABC News, "He'll be able to go back home with his family after serving eight years in jail, that was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion."

Wait, who did Rod Blagojevich have in mind for Senate?

Before Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to prison for allegedly soliciting bribes for political appointments, he was secretly recorded in 2008 suggesting Oprah Winfrey as a potential replacement for Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. "She's a kingmaker!" Blagojevich reportedly told his chief of staff, John Harris, about Winfrey's senatorial chances, per NBC Chicago. "She made Obama!" He added, "Nobody would assail this pick...she is huge! There's nothing 'affirmative action' about her!" Big sigh in regards to Blago's "affirmative action" reference.

The mogul, who admitted she was "pretty amused" by the then governor's musings, quickly shot down the idea. "If I had been watching from the treadmill where I'm usually watching, I would have fallen off the treadmill," she told her bestie, Gayle King, during an episode of their defunct Sirius XM radio show, Oprah and Friends (via ABC News). 

Winfrey might not have been interested in running for Senate at the time, although we wouldn't rule out a presidential bid in the future. But it remains to be seen whether Blagojevich would endorse the television vet for commander-in-chief.

President Donald Trump 'fired' Rod Blagojevich

Once upon a time in another universe very far away, Rod Blagojevich starred on Season 9 of Celebrity Apprentice just months before he was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for 17 counts of corruption, including wire fraud, attempted extortion, and conspiracy to solicit bribes. Not even Nostradamus could have predicted Donald Trump would go on to become president and commute Blagojevich's sentence in what can only be described as a true full-circle moment. Perhaps Trump was trying to make up for "firing" Blago from the series when he failed at a challenge involving Harry Potter. Wait, what? Please remember, this was reality television, folks.

Blagojevich had been sent to Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. to research the iconic brand, but he goofed when Trump found inaccuracies in his report. "Your Harry Potter facts were not accurate," the now-president quipped. "Who did the research?" The dad-of-two struggled to defend himself, which led Trump to utter his then infamous catchphrase of "You're fired!" Talk about a tough way to go down... although we're chuckling over the former politician mistaking Ravenclaw for "Ravencloth." 

Moral of the story here? Life is strange. And if there's ever a Celebrity Apprentice 2.0, we wouldn't be surprised if Blagojevich tries to stage a comeback. Ravencloth be damned! 

Rockin n' rollin behind bars

During Rod Blagojevich's stint at a Federal Correctional Institution in Colorado, he reportedly joined a band aptly named Jailhouse Rockers. The Denver Post noted how the group's moniker was supposedly inspired by Elvis Presley's 1957 hit "Jailhouse Rock," which seems appropriate considering Blago's hair has been compared to "The King's" iconic 'do.

So, how did the former governor land this sweet gig? He can thank a former inmate named "Ernie B.," who operated the Colorado federal penitentiary's band room during his time behind bars. The two became friends, and Ernie soon agreed to teach Blagojevich guitar. "Rod worked at night in the school, teaching history, so we had time to practice every day," the ex-inmate told the Chicago Tribune. "Electric guitars you obviously have to plug in, but acoustic guitars you could check out of the room, so we'd do that and find a spot down in the yard to play." He added, "I gave him an instructional book — he went through it and he applied himself the hardest of anyone I ever met."

Although Blago was supposedly decent at playing guitar, Ernie encouraged him to take the role of frontman after hearing his "vocal potential." The band eventually performed at GED graduations and on holidays, with Ernie telling the outlet, "People really liked it when Rod did Elvis. 'Love Me Tender' was a good one. And he did a great 'La Bamba.' ... He wasn't afraid, he did all of it." Rock on.

Don't touch the hair

As it turns out, Rod Blagojevich seemingly has a lot in common with John Stamos' character on Full House, "Uncle" Jesse Katsopolis. That's because both guys are very serious about their hair to a comical degree, the only difference being Blago is a former governor while Stamos' character is pure fiction. Speaking of fiction, snippets from a 2008 New York Times profile on Blagojevich are so outlandish they strain credibility, like the claim that he went above and beyond to maintain his 'do. "Blagojevich rarely turns up for work at his official state office in Chicago, former employees say, is unapologetically late to almost everything, and can treat employees with disdain, cursing and erupting in fury for failings as mundane as neglecting to have at hand at all times his preferred black Paul Mitchell hairbrush," reporter Monica Davey wrote at the time. Davey added, "He calls the brush 'the football,' an allusion to the 'nuclear football,' or the bomb codes never to be out of reach of a president."

If the Chicago native's so-called obsession with his hair is true, it might be because he's "deeply concerned about his appearance." Davey also reported Blagojevich had "ignored suggestions to change" the 'do. Well, we guess you can't knock a guy for loving his hair. There are worse hangups, no?