In what could fairly be called the most ludicrous political stunt of the year, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) voluntarily deserted themselves on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific to film a reality show for Discovery Channel called Rival Survival.
For approximately six days and six nights in August, the senators kept each other alive on the Marshall Islands' Eru while being filmed by Discovery Channel television crews in some sort of vague statement on bipartisanship. The result was a one-hour special scheduled to air on Oct. 29.
Here's how Discovery described the show, which was apparently enthusiastically pitched by the senators themselves:
"... the pair must work together as they attempt to spear fish, build shelter and find enough water to survive for one week. There is no natural source for fresh water on Eru, and what lives in the ocean will be their major food source ... [There will be] no contact with the outside world to call upon for help."
Here's the real kicker, though. Eru is "an utterly unforgiving deserted destination where the reefs alone are fraught with dangers that include venomous stonefish, lionfish and scorpion fish" and also happens to be the "largest shark sanctuary in the world."
So if you haven't seen Flake or Heinrich lately, it's probably because one of them got swallowed Jaws-style by one of the island chain's many sharks while running to get assistance for the other, who was stung by a stonefish in the chest while attempting to spear a fish because they were starving to death.
"Both of us know just how frustrated people are with Washington right now. We can both attest that no one is more frustrated than those of us trying to get things done in this environment. We recognize how difficult it can be to cut through the partisanship," the senators said in a statement. "So we decided to do something completely out of the ordinary and frankly a little extreme to show the world and our colleagues that even if you have serious differences, if you want to survive you have to work together."
It probably helps that the two are some of the prettiest faces in the Capitol, having ranked highly on The Hill's 2014 "most beautiful" list. Flake, for his part, is one of the most active outdoorsmen in D.C., having been stranded twice before on the nearby islands of Jabonwod and Biggarenn.
Of course, they have more practical reasons to want to be in the spotlight for a bit: Flake has an interest in pushing bipartisan immigration reform through Congress. But mostly, this is just a predictable play for the cameras during the notoriously boring congressional recess. Neither of the two are up for re-election in November. What are they going to do? Talk to their constituents?
For the record, congressional approval ratings are hovering around 13.8%. Uproxx's Danger Guerrero writes that Rival Survival is "either a new low for reality television or a new low for the entire grand experiment we call democracy." But, come on, this is America — we can do both.