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Heard on the Hill: Giving Game Shows Another Go

Tune in today. That’s when former House staffer Abra Belke tries her luck, again, on a national game show with her upcoming stint on ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

Belke, a former aide for Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) before she went to work for the National Rifle Association, is a game-show junkie who last indulged her trivia jones by appearing on “Jeopardy!”

“I wagered unwisely on a Daily Double,” she said of her undoing in October 2009.

Belke waited out the 18 months she was barred from competing on game shows, then applied for “Millionaire” over the summer, which included a 50-question quiz and 90-minute interview.

She got the call last month when “I was standing in a meeting with a Senator,” she said.

So off she went to the “Millionaire” set, which is evidently WAY more stressful than Alex Trebek-land.

According to Belke, both programs typically shoot a week’s worth of shows in rapid succession. But unlike “Jeopardy!” where contestants played mock rounds and watched each other’s segments, Belke said the “Millionaire” handlers kept everyone on a short leash.

Contestants were confined to the green room and prohibited from outside media — including newspapers, TV and Internet — and could not converse about trivia topics in general. “I was just a ball of nerves the whole time,” she said.

Belke declined to say how she did on the segment, which begins airing today. But she’s already looking forward to the next challenge. “I keep hoping the networks will create new game shows,” she said, noting that she’s “not really good at ‘Wheel of Fortune.’”

The midday spectacle makes a viewing party difficult. Senate schedule permitting, she and friends might head to Bullfeathers to watch. As for her former boss?

“There was nobody who was more excited about my being on ‘Jeopardy!’ than Denny,” Belke said. “He referred to me as his ‘Jeopardy!’ girl.”

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