I wonder how many July 4 barbecues former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has not been invited to this week? It’s pretty bad when you can’t even get on a show called “I’m a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here.” 

Actually, the producers were interested in old “helmet-hair” but a federal judge wouldn’t let him leave the country for Costa Rica, where the show is filmed. Seems he has a few trials coming up.

Instead, his wife Patti is a contestant on the program and Rod makes “special appearances” via taped messages. 

His wife wants to correct her public image, known mostly through profanity-laced wiretaps in which she suggested the Tribune Co. fire editors who did not support her husband. 

That’s pretty scary, when you go on a show with two Baldwin brothers and Sanjaya from “American Idol” to “help” your image. 

But are you really surprised with so many weird things in the news every day?

For instance:

In Cape Coral, Fla., a man with one arm was denied a request to have his sandwich cut in half at a Burger King. The manager told the media, “We don’t let our employees cut sandwiches; they might cut themselves.” The customer, who lost his arm while serving in the military, ordered the sandwich anyway and “let it fall apart” while he ate. 

The attendant told him they had plenty of plastic knives and he could cut it himself if he wanted. “I would if I could” he told her. However, a friend of mine in Lake Charles who works for Burger King says that’s ridiculous. “Our motto is ‘Have It Your Way,’” he told me. “We should be able to cut a sandwich if that’s the customer’s request. That manager in Florida should be re-trained or fired.” (Just for laughs: the headline the Florida Sun-Sentinel used for this story was, “You Can’t Halve It Your Way.”)

Also out of Florida came a story that a man took advantage of an autistic friend, using his Social Security number to steal his identity. He applied for several credit cards and racked-up a nice $35,000 in debt on his disabled friend’s name. 

In an AP story from Dayton, Ohio, it was noted that a former Girl Scouts leader has agreed to pay the organization $20,000 as restitution for stealing money from a cookie account and using it for vacations, groceries and personal expenses. 

Prosecutors said Tamara Jo Ward had access to a bank account her troop used to deposit cookie sales revenue that was to pay for the troop’s recreational activities. The article continued, “Under a restitution agreement, she’ll pay $5,000 up front. She’ll also pay $250 a month during a five-year probation and spend 30 days in jail.”

So now, Patti Blagojevich wants to correct her image. In an article by Adam Bryant I found on TVGuide.com, Patti Blagojevich said, “I don’t think those characterizations were fair at all. I think that people who know me know the truth behind those comments.”

In that same article, Blagojevich publicist Glenn Selig joked the former governor believes his wife might have it easier in the jungle. “He knows how hard it is to take care of the kids and to run a home.”

So if you want a celebrity for your July 4 party, I know a former Illinois governor who probably works real cheap right now.

[Robert Hankins can be reached at robert961@live.com]