Back when he still was Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich promised the people at the Quad Cities Marathon he would run in the marathon if then-Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack would run it with him.
In those days, Iowans didn't know you couldn't exactly trust a Blagojevich promise.
Vilsack, first elected Iowa governor in 1998, had run three marathons that year, one of them with Arkansas' Mike Huckabee. So he said yes.
"i show up on a warm September day," Vilsack recalled on Friday while he was in Chicago. "Blagojevich didn't show up. And I was stuck running 26.2 miles. Because it was the fourth marathon I had run in a year- I'm not a Kenyan-thin kind of guy, I'm a Clydesdale - it was excruciatingly long.
"And I cramped up, and it was just awful. And it took me six hours to finish the thing. They were literally tearing the whole structure down as I crossed the finish line.
"I apologized for being so late, and that was the headline: 'Governor apologizes for being late.' "
Blowing off a marathon appearance he'd promised to make wasn't the ex-governor's only unappealing trait, as far as other state chief executives were concerned.
"He wouldn't return calls to [other] governors," said Vilsack, who now is U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary.
There's probably not much solace Blagojevich can find in being locked up in a federal prison. But there's this. At least the prisons aren't run by the USDA.
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