Beauty pageants for grown up women has long been an idea on the fade. Whereas the contests — Miss USA, Miss America, Miss Universe (what’s the difference between the first two, anyway?) used to air in primetime, as “appointment television” on one of the Big Three networks, with huge audiences, when I was a kid, these days they’re relegated to basic cable (TLC) and the only people who seem to give a damn are evangelical women and gay men (a strange combination that combined with the increasing desperation of pageant organizers like Donald Trump to generate publicity for the anachronistic bikini contests, produced Perez Hilton vs. Carrie Prejean clash of the lightweights earlier this year.) But if you needed further proof that beauty pageants have completely jumped the shark, and are now best left to tragicomic parodies like “Toddlers and Tiaras,” there’s the selection of Rush Limbaugh — the drug-addicted, Viagra-chugging, women-belittling racist (links for the doubting dittoheads here, here and here, including to Limbaugh’s call for a posthumous medal of honor for James Earl Ray…) with an overhyped radio show and an almost palpable fear of Glenn Beck’s growing stardom — not to mention a cochlear implant (brought on by his drug habit,) that is gonna make it tough for him to judge the talent portion — as the first named judge for its January, 2010 pageant.
So … what is Rush gonna judge? Who’s wearing the evening gown he covets most for himself? And what’s he going to ask these poor girls? Snarky questions about date rape? Will he quiz the black nad Hispanic contestants on whether they’ve ever been in a gang? Or just score all non-white hopefuls a zero and “keep it moving…” Or maybe he’ll just slip his favorite girl some “cabbage” in a cigar box in exchange for a few of the “baby blues” she uses to keep the screams from coming …
Limbaugh on his radio show back on September 29th pondered the pros and cons of taking the assignment. Among the cons:
RUSH: Well, here’s the first e-mail response to my request for input as to whether or not I should do the Miss America Pageant next January. “Come on, Rush! You’re not even qualified for this. You’re not gay and you’re not irrelevant enough to be a judge at one of these things. You either have to be gay or totally irrelevant to be a judge.” Others are saying it’s a White House plot to keep me off the air for a week. Others are saying, “This is so beneath you. I can’t even think of you and the realm in which you live. I do not even think of you as a pageant judge. Why, I can’t believe this.” Okay. That’s why I’m seeking feedback on this, folks. And it is pouring in. The vast majority of it I read during the break — and I took a lot of time reading it, and the e-mails are pouring in. The overwhelmingly sentiment is do it.
So even Rush and his dittoheads dont’ respect the pageant? Yeah, that makes sense to choose him … and plus, his followers think he’s NOT gay!!! Fascinating! Now for Rush’s “pros”…
Now, among the people who think I should do it, are these reasons. “You could say that you’re going to be a judge to do research into why women that age are so sad and depressed and unhappy.” Well, you don’t know this, Rachel, but the Huffington Post has a new blog about why women are so unhappy. And I could probably fix that single-handedly. “So you could say you’re going to be a judge and do research into why.” Here’s another series of reasons why I should do it. “You can show Perez Hilton how to be professional and have class.” “We would all be able to officially call you Judge Limbaugh. After all, you do come from a long line of judges in your family.” Once you officially judge beautiful women, it makes you an expert on beautiful women and gives you the right to talk about beautiful women as it relates to the women’s movement.” I’ve always said I love the women’s movement, especially walking behind it.
And won’t those gals feel lucky being judged by a swell guy like that?
Meanwhile, a peek at the Miss America message board (which is so bloody old fashioned, they still call it a “web board…”) indicates that past pageant participants are not exactly thrilled to have Rush on board. A sampling:
Um, what’s up with a press release to announce ONE judge? This reads more like an announcement of an emcee than a judge. In an effort for this to appear to be something other than a blatant attempt to garner publicity, there shouldn’t have been a release until the entire panel had been selected and confirmed. I can’t imagine being a 2010 contestant anxiously awaiting the announcement of the rest of the panel with the hope that there’ll be other panelists who are assertive enough to offset the input of a judge who has on multiple occasions displayed cultural insensitivity.
Formerly Executive Director,
Miss Prince George’s County (MD)
August 2005 Keyboard Contest Winner
From: John Chisholm
Date: Friday, October 09, 2009 04:59 AM
Well I don’t know why I let myself get surprised or upset at the things occurring within the MAO anymore. There have been things that have occurred over the years that have bothered me but this actually might be the last straw for me. To include as a member of this judges panel someone with a documented history of racially and culturally bigoted remarks is absolutely disgusting to me. I think that I am just done now. I know for certain that I will not be watching. As much as I have loved this pageant over the years I cannot in good conscience support this in anyway.
It just continues to sadden me to see a program to which I devoted years of volunteer service moving in a direction that doesn’t appear to respect the diversity of 21st-century America. We had a discussion string here a while back about how shocking it was to see several states seat non-diverse judging panels to assess the qualifications of diverse contestant populations.
Now, we have the selection of a judge whose insensitive views on race have been captured here in a post by Tim Harris. It is alarming that in the same year the organization launches a program in Puerto Rico, a judge who has expressed unenlightened views about Hispanics and Blacks is the first one announced to the public.
At it’s core, the Miss America competition is a nationwide search for a national public relations spokesperson. With years of ridiculously inflammatory public statements on his resume, what exactly makes Rush Limbaugh a good candidate to hire a public relations spokesperson? I just don’t get it, sorry.
And, what’s craziest of all is the fact that MAO would make a decision like this in the final year of its current TV contract. If I were a TLC executive, Rush Limbaugh as a judge would not lead me toward a decision to sign on for three more years of Miss America on my network because I’d be scared of what kind of embarrassing publicity stunt MAO might pull next!
Formerly Executive Director,
Miss Prince George’s County (MD)
August 2005 Keyboard Contest Winner
I certainly would be very interested in knowing what Heather Whitestone McCallum’s opinion is on how well someone with cochlear implants could actually judge vocal & instrumental & tap performances. My MS support group has 2 members with CIs and while they are excellent at improving (but not completely restoring) speech recognition, they are not as effective with other sounds. They also have a tendency to feedback when around florescent & neon lighting (we had to move our meetings because of this.) I’m quite certain Mr. Limbaugh has the best money can buy, but there is no CI on the market that completely restores hearing.
For the last 10 years I have defended MAO to
critics. When I ran for public office, I was
often times slammed for competing in the Miss
America program. I beat the critics back and
now represent a district that is 500 square
miles and makes policy for over 1.4 Million
For MAO to champion someone who was a drug
addict and who broke the law, someone who
wants our country and President to fail, I
have to question the integrity of the
I AM DEEPLY disappointed in the Miss America
organization and plan to write a stern letter
to MAO. I encourage all of you to do the
I don’t have Art McMaster’s e-mail address,
if anyone has that, please pass that along.
Miss Sacramento Valley 2002
A couple more doozies:
From: Elaine Gardner
Date: Friday, October 09, 2009 07:32 PM
Gee, I am 57 years old, and I bet I have watched 50 Miss America Pageants. I still miss Bert!
But I won’t be watching this year, and probably never again. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Why do you want to drive viewers away?
I cannot in good conscience watch a program that is promoting this man, and using him to promote itself. I wonder what the contestants think about this.
From: Theresa Kaye (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Friday, October 09, 2009 08:15 PM
Dear Chairman MAO,
What an incredible choice you’ve made! Was there nobody more notorious who you could have selected? Oh, I suppose Osama bin Laden and Philip Garrido had other obligations that evening.
And who could possibly be a better judge of truth and beauty in the world than Rush Limbaugh? I assume you’ve listened to his daily rant.
It would appear that the little Carrie Prejean episode last year in California taught you absolutely nothing.
Your choice in this matter is beyond shocking! It degrades the very credibility of the MAO as a fair and balanced organization.
Aren’t Sarah Palin and Michelle Baughman just a little bit too old to be crowned as Miss America?
She meant “Bachman,” but you get the idea… It pretty much goes on like that for multiple threads. In fact, I found only one — ONE — positive comment about El Rushbo’s looming presence. Still, I suppose the pageant organizers know what they’re doing, right? I mean, they’ve been so successful up to now at keeping hte pageant relevant and popular … and it’s a win-win: Rush needs something positive in his bio to sell to the NFL team owners he’s trying to woo, and the pageant needs the pub. Besides, it’s in Vegas, and you know what that means … plenty of Viagra and hookers of indeterminate gender!!! (Party on, Rush)
… But will the pageant let El Rushbo keep a few silky gowns for himself? That’s the real question here…