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Blagojevich trial will proceed without him

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – If there’s such a thing as a “normal” impeachment trial, the one that starts today in Illinois doesn’t qualify.

The defendant, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, won’t participate. He’ll be talking to Whoopi Goldberg and Larry King instead of facing the state Senate. And while the Democrat acknowledges his conviction is certain, he refuses to resign.

Blagojevich complains that the trial rules are unfair, but he and his lawyers didn’t try to influence the rules as they were written or afterward.

After weeks of near-silence, Blagojevich has begun an energetic public relations campaign, comparing himself to the hero of a Frank Capra movie and a cowboy being lynched for a crime he didn’t commit.

He told NBC’s “Today” that when he was arrested on federal corruption charges, he took solace from thinking of other jailed leaders – Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.

He also said his 5-year-old daughter, Annie, has asked whether he’ll still be governor on her birthday in April.

“If I were a betting man, I’d say I probably won’t be,” Blagojevich said, according to a transcript released Sunday. “I think the fix is in and … they’ve decided essentially to do a hanging without even a fair trial.”

The full “Today” interview will air today, the same day the impeachment trial starts and Blagojevich is scheduled to appear on “Good Morning, America,” “The View” and “Larry King Live.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Sunday that Blagojevich should be defending himself at the trial because the extra media attention won’t impress the state senators who will be judging him.

“Barbara Walters is not on his jury,” Durbin said, referring to a “View” co-host.

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Zimbabwe leader calls assassination attempt ‘cowardly act’

UPDATED: 8:14 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s president was unscathed Saturday by an explosion at a campaign rally that state media called an attempt to assassinate him, later visiting his two injured vice presidents and declaring the “cowardly act” will not disrupt next month’s historic elections.