I was pleased to hear Tuesday that U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel did the sensible thing and denied Rod Blagojevich’s request to travel to Costa Rica so the former Illinois governor could participate in NBC’s survival reality show, “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!”

Zagel said he doesn’t consider Blagojevich a flight risk, but denied the request because Blagojevich doesn’t seem to fully understand the seriousness of his legal problems. I think Zagel is right about that. Blagojevich faces 16 felony charges of criminal corruption that could land him in prison for 25 to 30 years, yet he seems more preoccupied with crazy, self-promoting stunts than saving his hide (and his dignity). I suppose that might say something about how Blagojevich views his chances of staying out of prison — not too good — so he wants to live it up while he is still a free man (constrained by bail requirements).

Blagojevich strikes me as the type of person who crammed a semester’s worth of learning beneath his hair the night before a big exam. He seems to be in denial about his probable future as a convicted felon, and therefore won’t do much about it until right before his trial begins. Then again, Blagojevich also seems like somebody who just acts oblivious to the seriousness of his position, all the while plotting some crazy defense strategy akin to metaphorically setting himself on fire as he proclaims his innocence in the courtroom.

Whatever the case, if Blagojevich decides to pursue a different reality TV show — one he can be on because it is filmed in the United States — Chicago Tribune media columnist Phil Rosenthal has a couple of “(bleeping) golden” ideas:

The network probably also should have offered Blagojevich a slot on “Celebrity Apprentice,” where he could have gone haircut to haircut with Donald Trump.

And “Deal or No Deal”? Suitcases full of money? A banker dangling cash offers to change your mind? What Chicago politician isn’t a natural for that?

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