What does it take to get U.S. Senators from opposing parties to work together? Dropping them off on a deserted island.
That's the premise Rival Survival, a new reality TV show that debuts at 10 p.m. (9 Central) Wednesday, Oct. 29, on Discovery Channel.
Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democrat Martin Heinrich of New Mexico spent six days and nights on Eru, one of the Marshall Islands. Judging from some of the previews the cable channel has released, the Senators still occasionally exchanged political barbs.
But according to the lawmakers who are making the PR rounds in advance of the show's first episode, most of the time they worked together on the island.
U.S. Senators Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, and Martin Heinrich, Democrat of New Mexico, share some of their reality television show experiences with CBS Late Night host David Letterman.
Not at public expense or exposure: If you're worrying what the excursion cost taxpayers, don't. No tax dollars were harmed in the making of the show.
"We traveled on our dime," said Heinrich during a program preview event last month at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. "Discovery made a contribution to a small nonprofit. It was not a for-profit arrangement."
And if you're worrying about the recent reality television trend of exposing too much skin, we're all safe on that account, too.
Flake and Heinrich were dressed in appropriate island attire for the political version of Survivor, with dressed being the operative word.
Future season stars: If the program is a ratings success -- stranger things have happened! -- the Senators have some suggestions as to who should appear in future seasons.
Heinrich tapped House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Flake opted to stay with his legislative chamber, pitting the Senate's Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) against its Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
"If they could spend six days and nights on an island, we could move legislation to the floor," Heinrich told the National Press Club audience. "And if they didn't survive, we could still move legislation to the floor."
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