"Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden interviewed Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Jan. 26, 2009, in New York. The following are excerpts from the interview.
MCFADDEN: So, let me just give you an opportunity to answer this question, which I think is on the minds of a lot of people very directly. Are you a dirty politician?
BLAGOJEVICH: No, I'm a very honest politician and I see myself -- and you can laugh and call this delusional -- but when all the facts come out you, will see that I'm right. This is a modern-day Frank Capra story. You remember those old movies? Those black and white movies with Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper? The guy who was siding with the little guy, trying to fight for them, create more opportunities for them and protect them from big, powerful forces? Well, that's my story. It's a modern day version of it.
And what those people do, some of those establishment people do in those movies is try to make the good guy, whose got idealistic intentions, look like he's just what you suggested. And I view myself as Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper and I know that's gonna be met with mockery, but that's how I see it.
MCFADDEN: But your political career is over now, wouldn't you agree to that?
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I think it's not very promising right now and to be put in a place in the not too distant future, where I'll be looking for another livelihood, but I'm not as important ...
MCFADDEN: No, but I mean all these big dreams. You talked about running for president in 2016. That's over isn't it?
BLAGOJEVICH: Let me say that, things are taken out of context and what I have to do now is focus on doing the best I can while I'm still the governor of Illinois. You know, I try to make the case to as many people as I can. But what the legislature is doing in Illinois is grossly unfair and setting a dangerous precedent -- removing governors elected by the people without allowing the governor to prove his innocence by bringing in witnesses.
MCFADDEN: You've also been called narcissistic, delusional, a sociopath. One state senator says that you're not playing with a full deck. Are you playing with a full deck?
BLAGOJEVICH: Hmm. Let me put it this way. Politics is a business where people call you names.
MCFADDEN: I just want to make sure. It is your position that these tapes are somehow doctored? That the transcripts are inaccurate?
BLAGOJEVICH: It's my position that when the full story comes out, and all of those conversations are put in proper context, it's going to show a governor who's working to try and get things done for people. Considering a lot of ideas and things from different advisors. You know, waking up one day and thinking Oprah Winfrey makes sense, another day waking up and thinking someone else makes sense.
Listening to advocates for other candidates and all the rest. But at the end of the day, when the full story is told, it will show what I was interested in doing was a selfless act for the people of Illinois.