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Riding Antonella Barba's Coattails (If She Were Wearing Any)

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Since the text-voters of America, in their infinite wisdom, are likely to finally boot Antonella Barba from American Idol tonight, this may be my last chance to pander for hits weigh in on the most important news story on the Internet. Why should Rosie O’Donnell get to milk all the sweet, sweet attention for herself?

O’Donnell charged on The View that Idol is racist and “weightist” because it earlier ejected big-voiced, big-boned contestant Frenchie Davis after the discovery of softcore photos she had shot, whereas Barba has stayed on the show after semi-nude pix of her appeared online. I’m with Rosie on one point: Frenchie should never have been booted. But then of course I’d think that. She was a great singer, I’m as pro-porn as any American male, and if Paula gets to have a career after cutting a single with MC Skat Kat, then fair’s fair.

Beyond that, though, this is a puffed-up non-issue, which is, of course, what Idol thrives on. You’ll recall the controversy over Jennifer Hudson’s ejection in season 3: Was America racist? Would this undermine our youth’s faith in democracy? (Thank God the Oscars stepped in to offer reparations and heal this festering national wound.) The fact is, there’s a clear difference between intentionally posing for a commercial shoot and having your private photos leaked onto the Net, and whether you agree with the Frenchie decision, there are plenty of explanations for it besides bigotry.

The most interesting thing about the fracas was how Simon Cowell handled it last night, acknowledging it while trashing the overmatched Barba’s performance: “I feel for you, because you’ve taken a lot of stick in the media, I think you’ve handled yourself well throughout. And I don’t think anyone should be put in that situation.” Simon was cannily, and diplomatically, giving America an excuse to put Barba out of her and our misery while not feeling guilty about it.

I suspect it will work. American Idol may not be a metaphor for the electoral process, but Simon has definitely turned into quite the politician.

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