Life imitates Monty Python as website uses blackmail for business plan works like this: Alleged friends post embarassing pictures of you on the site (said pictures frequently found on Facebook, MySpace, et al.). If you want said picture removed you have to become a member of the site ($20/month or $50/year). Give the site credit: It spreads the rewards around. The person who posts the picture gets a cut of payoff.

Robert Anchovy:  Hello, good evening, and welcome to ‘Blackmail’! And to start tonight’s programme, we go to Preston in Lancashire, and Mrs Betty Teal! (Cut to a slightly blurred black and white photo of a housewife with her face blotted out by a black oblong.)
Anchovy:  Hello, Mrs Teal! (Cut back to presenter. He picks up a letter and reads it.)
Anchovy: Now this is for £15 and it’s to stop us revealing the name of your lover in Bolton.
SUPERIMPOSED CAPTION: ‘£15’ (flashes on and off quickly)
Anchovy: So Mrs Teal…if you send us £15 by return post, please, and your husband Trevor, and your lovely children, Diane, Janice and Juliet need never know the name of your lover in Bolton.

What other Monty Python skits are begging to be turned into businesses?  Maybe it’s time to shake down the army or sell a dead parrot or two.

Ill gov. arrested for trying to blackmail a newspaper

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (pronounced: U-r-kid-ing-me) and his chief of staff have been arrested  for trying to shake down various people and institutions. While the lead in the news is how it is related to naming a successor to our president-elect, what really got me is this:

According to a federal criminal complaint, Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper’s editorial board who had been critical of him fired.

OK, so the risk for an elected official doing this sort of thing is what will happen if the press finds out about it. Don’t really have to worry about that “if” in this case, do you Rod?

As someone who grew up in Chicago and then Rhode Island (Motto: We’re not as corrupt as Louisiana but we’re trying), I am curious to know if there is a corruption index for government in the US?

UPDATE: The interwebs is democratizing satire: For bid on eBay: 1 Ill. Senate seat, slightly worn

ANOTHER UPDATE: TOTALLY BIASED LIST OF MOST CORRUPT STATES: Louisiana is the most corrupt state in the nation. That’s according to an analysis of government data released today by Corporate Crime Reporter. Louisiana (1), Mississippi (2), Kentucky (3), Alabama (4) and Ohio (5) are the top five most corrupt states in the country, according to the analysis. Rounding out the top ten are Illinois (6), Pennsylvania (7), Florida (8), New Jersey (9), and New York (10). Corporate Crime Reporter looked at the 35 most populous states in the nation. (The fifteen states with population of under two million were not included in the analysis.)

No list that doesn’t have Rhode Island in the top 5 is worth its palm grease.