Bristol Palin is dancing her way toward the bottom of the pile but being electronically delivered into the hearts of Americans.
Bristol is one of the top three remaining contestants on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars", a show that is hemorrhaging credibility like red ink from the federal budget.
Bristol is the daughter of ultra conservative political wonk and Tea Party proponent Sarah Palin, who fancies herself as a presidential candidate in 2012.
Rumors abound that Sarah Palin has mobilized her Tea Partiers to flood ABC with phone calls and e-mails in the portion of the voting that calls for the general public to weigh in on which dancers should stay and which should go every week.
The result of this alleged campaign?
Bristol, who's a fine young woman but a mediocre dancer---especially when compared to the recent competitors who've been voted off the island---is one of the last three standing, despite poor marks from the show's judges and superior scores from her competition.
Something's rotten in Alaska.
The look on the face of singer/actress Brandy, who was the latest to capitulate to Bristol on Tuesday night, was both heartbreaking and uncomfortable to watch.
Brandy was legitimately stunned beyond comprehension when her name was read as the one who'd be saying goodbye that night. The crowd was stunned, too. You could hear a pin drop after host Tom Bergeron made the announcement.
The judges were stunned.
Most of America, I think, was stunned.
Somewhere, Tea Partiers were high-fiving each other.
ABC's method of voting across the country is coming under some serious fire. Apparently one of the cracks through which Bristol's competitors are falling is the one that doesn't verify the e-mail addresses of those voting online. One e-mail per vote, but if you're making up phony e-mails that no one is verifying...
You get the idea.
Bristol and "DWTS" partner Mark Ballas
Bristol, 20, joins actress Jennifer Grey, who's been getting high marks through most of the competition, and 19-year-old actor/rapper Kyle Massey as the three remaining finalists, as the show winds down for the season.
There's a creeping feeling that Bristol will end up as the winner; after all, she's survived this long with less-than-wonderful dancing.
But even if she doesn't win, the fact that she's still alive is an indictment of ABC's voting system. Aside from not verifying e-mail addresses, maybe the network should look at reducing the influence the public's vote has on the competition. In other words, simply weigh the judges' scores greater than the folks using phones and their computers.
This way, the public can still influence the results, a la "American Idol," but if the judges' scores are overwhelmingly favoring one dancer (Brandy had received a perfect score the night she was dismissed), then it would be nearly impossible for the general public to elevate a weak dancer above a superior one.
If Bristol Palin wins, "DWTS" will take a serious hit in the credibility department.
You can't trust the general public in these sorts of contests, where popularity so often trumps actual ability and talent.
ABC will deserve all the heat they get if so-so hoofer Bristol Palin wins this competition.
She's a sweet girl, but often has the look of a deer in the headlights when she dances. I think even she knows she's not that good.
But it's not her fault she's come this far. It's not even the Tea Partiers' or Mama Palin's.
It's the system's, and ABC needs to fix it before the next season of "DWTS" starts this winter.