Amanda Jacobs: Illinois is becoming Land of Lunatics

Amanda Jacobs

If I may channel Jerry Seinfeld for a moment: What’s the deal with Illinois lately?

Our lovely state has been in the national spotlight quite a bit over the last few months, and that spotlight has not been a flattering one.

Not long after Drew Peterson expressed interest in appearing on a reality TV show set in a Nevada brothel, he was arrested on suspicion of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio. And, according to CNN, the grand jury that indicted him is currently examining further charges against him in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.

Whether he’s guilty of murder or not, Drew Peterson’s behavior since Stacy disappeared has been appalling. He dove headfirst into the media maelstrom, exploiting a tragedy for publicity, and he got engaged to a 24-year-old woman while still technically married.

After he was indicted, he continued his streak of alarming behavior, joking about being arrested for having overdue library books and chatting about his “spiffy” prison uniform, complete with “bling.”

Of course, before Peterson got a chance to show off his post-arrest antics for the whole nation, everybody’s favorite Illinois imbecile, Rod Blagojevich, turned our state government into a national punch line.

I’m sure I don’t need to rehash all the gory details of his indictment and impeachment for you, so I won’t. Instead, I’d like to focus on what Blagojevich has in common with Peterson: inappropriate and ridiculous post-arrest behavior.

Even in the face of the overwhelming evidence against him, our former governor maintained his innocence and presented himself as a victim. Even more absurd, he tried to get permission to travel to remote island for a reality TV show called “I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!”

Hey, Rod? As much as I’d like to see you banished to an island, I’ve got some bad news for you: You’re not a celebrity. In theory, you are a politician, and in all likelihood, you are a criminal.

But you are not a celebrity. And neither is Drew Peterson. So it’s really a shame that you are two of Illinois’ most famous faces right now.

After all, most of the people in this state are not despicable and/or insane. This is the Land of Lincoln, not the Land of Lunatics.

Hey, maybe the Illinois Bureau of Tourism can start an ad campaign along the lines of those “It’s Better Here” commercials: “Illinois: Not All of Us Are Crazy Here.”

Barack Obama is from Illinois, and he’s poised, articulate and capable. Maybe he can start reminding people of the merits of his home state — but he should try not to mention the attempted sale of his Senate seat by our buddy Blagojevich or the foolishness surrounding the appointment of Roland Burris.

Of course, the president is probably pretty busy running the country, so we’ll have to find some other way to improve Illinois’ image.

Maybe our state government can actually take some action to balance the budget or implement some meaningful ethics reform.

Or maybe Chicago will win its bid to host the 2016 Olympics, drawing the eyes of the world to this state and allowing us to make a good impression.

Of course, I hope that the sagas of Blagojevich and Peterson will be well behind us by 2016. And maybe that’s the best way for Illinois to redeem itself in the nation’s eyes: The courts should resolve these cases as soon as possible, showing that justice does exist in this state and removing Peterson and Blagojevich from the national stage. Then Illinois might be able to receive some positive attention.

Amanda Jacobs can be reached at (309) 346-1111 ext. 663 or ajacobs@pekintimes.com.