• Sun-Times Media
  • In his acceptance speech Tuesday night, Bruce Rauner tells his supporters he’d spoken personally with house speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. Well, not personally personally.

Bruce Rauner is being roundly rebuked for fibbing on Tuesday night, but let’s cut the guv-elect, some slack.

Rauner wanted everyone to know he was in charge and willing to work with the other side as he began the difficult business of shaking up Springfield. So as he claimed victory Tuesday night, he told his supporters that before he came out to address them, “I placed two very important phone calls. I called Speaker [Michael] Madigan. I called [Senate] President [John] Cullerton, and I said to them ‘This is an opportunity for us to work together.'”

The following day, spokespersons for both Madigan and Cullerton made clear that Rauner had talked to neither. And Rauner yesterday acknowledged that he’d merely left voice mails with aides of the two legislative leaders.

True, he may have set a political record for swiftness of dissembling by offering his inaugural fiction in his victory speech—but his action was understandable. Imagine Rauner telling his jubilant supporters what really happened:

“Earlier tonight, I placed a very important call to Speaker Madigan. I got an automated message and was put on hold. After listening to elevator music for 20 minutes, I hit zero for an attendant. But a recording said no one was available, because it was after hours.

“So I pressed three to leave a message. I said, ‘Speaker Madigan—Bruce Rauner here. You probably heard I was elected governor tonight? I just wanted to tell you, I think this is an opportunity for us to—’ and then the elevator music broke in again.

“I punched ‘pound,’ but the recording said I’d made an incorrect selection. I tried entering the letters of the speaker’s last name. I got as far as ‘MAD,’ and then a voice said the call was being recorded for quality assurance. I was getting a little frustrated.

“I tried punching three again and started leaving another message. I got to “opportunity,” and a voice came on and said, ‘Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and someone will be with you shortly.’ I waited another ten minutes, and then I got a dial tone. So one of my aides ended up leaving a message with one of his aides.

“Now, with Senate President Cullerton, on the other hand, I had a heart-to-heart. Well, actually, one of my aides waved at one of his aides, but it was a wave that clearly said, ‘This is an opportunity for us to work together.'”