As Rod Blagojevich waits to find out if anyone will sell him down the river, his wife, Patti, was nearly swept away by a river in Costa Rica. She bravely took his place on "I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!" so their family would have some income -- and to raise money for a children's cancer charity.
On Monday night's premiere episode, Patti distinguished herself as one of the more sane contestants on the gross-out reality show. And no, there was no swearing. Not even as she chewed a tarantula. (It had a "musty, yeasty" flavor, she said.)
Patti did, however, pick up a few celebrity endorsements for her husband. Spencer Pratt, a fabricated villain for "The Hills," said that he would have voted for Rod for President. "I look at them as the Heidi and Spencer of politics," Spencer confided to the camera. Presumably, he meant it as a compliment.
Patti even got a few minutes to argue Rod's case in primetime. "He was always about doing the right thing for the people," she explained. "He was fighting the special interests."
And the, um, trial?
"They made a big hoopla out of something that wasn't even true," she said.
Decaying supermodel Janice Dickinson called her a "great woman."
Then "new Christian" Spencer invited Patti to sit with him and his wife, Heidi, for a prayer. Soon Patti's eyes filled with tears. It was unclear whether she was touched, or horrified by the company she was keeping.
By the end of the show, Illinois' former first lady was hanging upside down in the Trauma Tank, wearing goggles, as cockroaches danced in her hair.
In other "I'm a Celebrity" news:
- Chicago's comedy team Frangela -- Frances Callier and Angela Shelton -- saved the show with some lively commentary. They were also the first ones out of the Trauma Tank.
- Spencer/Heidi -- Speidi -- quit the show twice, only to return.
- Heidi's dry shampoo sparked a scuffle, with hubbie Spencer picking fights with a series of women.
- Stephen Baldwin, a veteran of "Fear Factor," "The Mole" and "The Apprentice," seemed right at home.
- "American Idol's" Sanjaya Malakar exhibited "mad jungle skills."
By reality standards, the first episode was a yawn. But it's early yet. Here's hoping that by the end of the first week, Lou Diamond Phillips or Torrie Wilson has some sort of breakdown. Or the dry shampoo runs out.