Miss USA: A Convenient Change of Rules

Is a Texan contestant's indictment of war critics a sign of solidarity — or is there more at stake?

March 28, 2003

Is a Texan contestant's indictment of war critics a sign of solidarity — or is there more at stake?

I hate to sound like Oliver Stone — conspiracy and all. But I could not help but wonder about the curious rule change for this year's Miss USA pageant, which was held on March 24, 2003 and broadcast on NBC. I know many people — like myself — anxiously watched this program for respite from another day of droning war coverage.

For the first time in the history of the event, the final five contestants were all asked different questions. They also did not disappear in a sound proof chamber, which was common practice, to keep them from listening to the answers of their competitors.

Now, it is important to note that the venue of this year's pageant was San Antonio, Texas. That town, with its 1.1 million inhabitants, is definitely Bush Country. It was therefore not surprising that Miss Texas made it to the round of the final five contestants (Miss Texas almost always does).

Then, however, things got weird. By pure coincidence, Miss Texas drew the only question related to the war in Iraq. This could have been a risky move. Just remember that fellow Texans "The Dixie Chicks" — a group of female country singers — had recently expressed their embarrassment that President Bush was a fellow Texan at a concert in the United Kingdom.

Lest you worry that Miss Texas followed suit, rest assured. As if in an effort to set herself apart from disloyal Texans like the Dixie Chicks, the potential Miss USA implied that these public figures — and other actors and actresses — had made ill use of their freedom of speech by opposing the war.

Hence they had surreptitiously undermined the president in his valiant struggle against evil on earth.

To nobody's surprise, Miss Texas was showered in thunderous applause for her patriotic remarks.

So let me run this by you again:

Venue: San Antonio, Texas.
Miss Texas among the final five.
Rule change for the first time.
Miss Texas picks the only question on Iraq.
On cue, she expresses her support for the immensely popular president.

Coincidence? Well, you decide.

Oh, before I forget: The pageant's jury must have read something about the First Amendment, because Miss Texas ended up as second runner-up.

Now, we will have to find embarrassing skeletons in the closets of both the newly crowned Miss USA and the first runner-up so that Miss Texas may rule. I believe special ops are working on it.