Arizona Republican Rep. Jeff Flake says he spent a week alone on an uninhabited island made him feel like he was 'was actually doing something again.'(Photo Credit: Rep. Jeff Flake)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – So why did Rep. Jeff Flake really spend a week alone on a deserted island? Because, he told CNN Wednesday, he "felt like a pansy."
"Ever since leaving the ranch and the farm years ago, I've kind of felt like a pansy, I guess," the Arizona Republican told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "And this made it feel like I was actually doing something again."
Flake spent a week in isolation on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean last summer, subsisting on coconuts and fish and sleeping in a hammock.
Despite the flawless photographs that show him posing shirtless in front of the sunset and with a fish caught on his spear, Flake promised that he was the only one on the island. His secret: a tripod and a timer.
Related: From Congressman to Survivorman
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the latest edition of CNN=Politics Daily: First Lady of California Maria Shriver caught on tape, breaking the law. What did she do that has her husband, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, up in arms? Internet Reporter Abbi Tatton has the answer.
Meanwhile: A day after an historic vote on health care reform, some congressional Democrats are pushing back hard on what they're calling a "sucker punch" by the insurance industry. National Political Correspondent Jessica Yellin reports on the move that could potentially mean major profit cuts for insurance companies.
Finally: Survivorman - a member of Congress, alone for a week on a deserted island. Rep. Jeff Flake, (R-Arizona) is in the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer to reveal the story behind his dream vacation.
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(CNN) - Florida Rep. Robert Wexler is resigning the seat he's held for 12 years to head up the Washington-based Center for Middle East Peace, the Democratic congressman announced Wednesday.
Wexler, who has proudly described himself as a "fire-breathing liberal," is a also strong defender of Israel.
His district, which includes much of Palm Beach, is heavily Democratic and not expected to be vulnerable for the party next cycle. The Miami Herald reports his announcement has already spurred jockeying from several Florida Democrats who are thinking of making a bid for the seat.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is legally required to call a special election after Wexler formally resigns his seat in January.
Wexler may be best-known nationally for his July 2006 interview on The Colbert Report during which the faux-news host coaxed him to declare: "I enjoy cocaine because... it's a fun thing to do." Colbert said Wexler, who was running unopposed that year, was allowed to say anything he wanted and still get elected.
(CNN) – Sen. Arlen Specter continues to stockpile cash ahead of what's likely to be a difficult re-election battle.
Specter's campaign announced Wednesday it raised over $1.8 million over the last three months, and ended the latest reporting period with $8.71 million in the bank.
The announcement means that Specter - who switched parties in April to become a Democrat - outraised Republican challenger Pat Toomey, who collected over $1.5 million during the same period. Specter's Democratic primary opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak, has not yet released his third-quarter fundraising totals.
Specter's campaign noted that President Obama's fundraiser for the incumbent in September netted "about a million dollars" for the Democrat.
(CNN) – The group of investors seeking to purchase the NFL's St. Louis Rams is dumping Rush Limbaugh from their effort after NFL executives, players and political leaders raised objections to the controversial talk show host's involvement in the bid.
Sports media executive Dave Checketts, who is leading the group, announced the decision in a statement issued Wednesday by his office.
"Rush was to be a limited partner - as such, he would have had no say in the direction of the club or in any decisions regarding personnel or operations," the statement said. "This was a role he enthusiastically embraced."
"However, it has become clear that his involvement in our group has become a complication and a distraction to our intentions; endangering our bid to keep the team in St. Louis. As such, we have decided to move forward without him and hope it will eventually lead us to a successful conclusion."
Related video: Analysts sound off on Limbaugh and the NFL
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Prospects for bipartisan cooperation on health care reform faded Wednesday as a key Senate Democrat called his GOP counterparts obstructionist and both conservative and liberal activists attacked the sweeping $827 billion Senate Finance Committee bill.
Another top Democrat introduced legislation that would withdraw an antitrust exemption enjoyed by private insurers since the end of World War II.
The latest round of partisan bickering erupted one day after the Finance Committee approved the only health care measure so far to attract any Republican support.
"I believe that the Republican leader and all of his colleagues, with the exception of a couple there ... want to do anything that they can do not to have a bill," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
"We understand that. We understand they would rather never have a vote on this. ... I am confident if their conduct is going to be as it has been in the last while, it will only be to divert attention from what is important legislation."
Reid also testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in favor of legislation introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, that would strip insurance companies of antitrust protection enacted in 1945.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama is calling on Congress to send another $250 payment to 57 million seniors and other Americans to stem the economic strain.
Congress approved $250 emergency payments as part of the $787 billion economic recovery act that lawmakers passed in February.
"Even as we seek to bring about recovery, we must act on behalf of those hardest hit by this recession," Obama said in a statement Wednesday. "That is why I am announcing my support for an additional $250 in emergency recovery assistance to seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities to help them make it through these difficult times."
The measure would cost $13 billion over 10 years, according to White House estimates.
The $250 is roughly equal to a 2% increase in benefits for the average Social Security beneficiary.
The move would help counter the effect of an expected announcement that Social Security recipients will not get a cost of living bump in 2010. Such adjustments are tied to economic factors such as inflation, which has remained low because of the recession.
The call for increased benefits for seniors is one of several proposals to expand stimulus benefits. Lawmakers are also considering extending unemployment benefits and the homebuyer tax credit, both of which were included in the economic stimulus bill passed in February.