Bug-eating and urine-drinking don’t usually feature in the public appearances of today’s world leaders. But on Tuesday, President Barack Obama—fresh from issuing a doomsday call for action on climate change—will receive “a crash course in survival techniques” from a man practiced at both skills, according to the White House.
The course will be taught by Bear Grylls, real name Edward Michael, a former special operator in the British military and host of the NBC reality show "Running Wild with Bear Grylls." The meeting of these two men—one skilled at squeezing policy from Congress, the other known for squeezing water from dung—will be taped and aired on NBC later this year.
The network, which is part of MSNBC parent company NBCUniversal, offered no details on the nature of Obama’s course. But it will happen as Obama hikes Exit Glacier in the Kenai Mountains of southern Alaska on Tuesday, the White House confirmed.
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“I will not deny your suspicion that there may have been some suggestions put forward by the Bear Grylls team that were not approved by the Secret Service," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One on Monday.
“The president has seen the show before. And again, I think it’s just sort of an admittedly unorthodox but legitimately interesting way for the president to reach an audience that obviously cares about this conversation.”
The president is in Alaska on a three-day swing, rallying world leaders to reach an agreement to reduce heat-trapping emissions or “condemn our children to a world they will no longer have the capacity to repair.” Addressing an international conference on the Arctic in Anchorage on Monday, Obama warned of “entire industries of people who can’t practice livelihoods, desperate refugees, political disruptions that could trigger conflicts around the world.”
It’s a vision of an overheated apocalypse that makes one wonder whether Obama’s "Running Wild" appearance holds some subconscious significance. If all the politics and the promises fail, at least the president will still know how to scratch out a life for himself. In the same spirit, some concerned citizen has put up a petition on the White House's website, demanding that the commander-in-chief drink his own urine.
“If there's one thing we all know about Bear Grylls' techniques, it's that they mostly involve drinking his own urine," the petition reads. "And so: We ask that Obama do the right thing and drink his own urine during a taping of Running Wild with Bear Grylls. For science. The people demand it.”
If the petition receives 100,000 signatures by September 30, the White House will be obliged to respond. As of Tuesday morning, it had a scant 300.