If you were wondering how worried House Speaker Michael Madigan is about election day, last week's special session gambit should have answered your question.

Governor Rod Blagojevich and his staff have attempted to muddy the waters on the question of that now-infamous $1,500 check from his friend by seizing on the flip-flopping of the friend's wife, Beverly Ascaridis.

Mrs. Ascaridis, you will recall, got a state job about the same time that her husband, Mike Ascaridis, wrote the governor a check for $1,500. The governor has admitted to directing his chief of staff to find Mrs. Ascaridis a job, but claims that the check was for his daughter Amy's college fund. He has so far refused to provide any supporting documentation that the check was ever deposited into a college fund, however.

If you think Governor Rod Blagojevich gets bad press now, imagine how harsh the coverage would be if we knew what he was hiding.

For instance, we know from sources that the governor's own office and his various agencies have been served with dozens of federal subpoenas involving countless criminal allegations, but Governor Blagojevich won't even confirm receiving a subpoena. He won't say how many subpoenas he's received. He won't say what the FBI is looking for.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is supposed to issue a legal opinion on whether the governor has to comply with reporters' Freedom of Information Act requests on the subpoenas. As of this writing, though, her office has been silent.

Okay, by a show of hands, how many of you out there have ever given $1,500 to the college fund of a friend's seven-year-old and then didn't tell your spouse about it?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

In case you haven't heard yet, I'll give you a brief wrap-up of the latest scandal that has befallen Governor Rod Blagojevich.

You may remember that the governor amended his statement of economic interests after he was interviewed by the FBI. One of those amendments included a previously undisclosed gift from Michael Ascaridis, his campaign treasurer during his congressional bids and his first run for statewide office.

After spending millions of dollars on unanswered television ads, Governor Rod Blagojevich has only an eight-point lead over Judy Baar Topinka, according to the latest poll.

The Research 2000 poll of 800 likely voters was conducted August 28 through 31 and had a margin of error of 3.5 percent. The poll found that Blagojevich was leading Topinka 47-39.

As President George W. Bush's job-approval ratings continue to slump, Republican incumbents almost everywhere are running away from him as fast as they can. It's gotten so bad that even U.S. Representative Tom Reynolds, the chairperson of the National Republican Congressional Committee, doesn't have the word "Republican" on his campaign Web site's front page.

So why did Republican gubernatorial nominee Judy Baar Topinka go with a Chicago casino idea to help fund her education, property-tax, and infrastructure proposals?

Well, a general tax increase had all but been ruled out months ago. Polling and focus-grouping showed high levels of opposition to a tax hike. Plus, Topinka already has enough troubles with her Republican base without doing something like that.

If you wanted to get an idea of how downright negative the governor's race will be this fall, all you had to do was hang around Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair last week and check your e-mail from the governor's campaign.

One speaker after another ripped into the Democrats during the Republicans' annual event. The speakers focused mainly on Governor Rod Blagojevich and the harm he has allegedly done to Illinois.

Stu Levine has flipped. Things are gonna get crazy real soon.

Levine was a big Republican insider with very close ties to Jim Ryan, Governor Rod Blagojevich's 2002 opponent. Some saw fair-minded bipartisanship when Governor Blagojevich reappointed Levine to both the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) board of directors and the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. As we soon discovered, the appointments may have been made for entirely different reasons. And now Levine is in a position to create some truly serious trouble for the governor.

Stu Levine has flipped. Things are gonna get crazy real soon.

Levine was a big Republican insider with very close ties to Jim Ryan, Governor Rod Blagojevich's 2002 opponent. Some saw fair-minded bipartisanship when Governor Blagojevich reappointed Levine to both the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) board of directors and the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. As we soon discovered, the appointments may have been made for entirely different reasons. And now Levine is in a position to create some truly serious trouble for the governor.

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