Dancing with the spotlight

November 23, 2010 1:52:24 PM PST
Anyone who was puzzled when Sarah Palin walked off the job as Governor of Alaska after only two years in office - can now see a little more clearly why she did what she did.

And what a perfect storm of publicity for the woman who, just two and a-half years ago, was a political unknown.

She's got a book, she's a regular "contributor" on the Fox News Channel, she has a multi-part show on a national cable channel, and her daughter has made it into the finals of "Dancing With The Stars."

There has been much made about Bristol Palin's lack of dancing ability, and her consistently lower-than-the-rest scores from the show's judges. Conspiracy theory abound - most dealing with Tea Party ballot-stuffing, although in this case the ballot is in the form of text messages, Internet votes, and toll-free phone lines. If Bristol Palin should win the final competition tonight, with her mom dutifully in the audience and ready for her cutaway close-up, those theories will go viral.

And what a boon it could be to the former Governor, as she plays the "I'm thinking" game of whether to run for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012. Palin herself has not been shy- talking about her daughter and the conspiracy theories. "The producers of 'Dancing With The Stars' are explaining over and over again, there's no way to cheat the system," she said. "But the haters are going to hate."

No one, of course, said anything about "cheating." It's not cheating to flood a network program with votes for a contestant. It happens all the time - think "American Idol." But you don't need a degree in political science to see the great P.R. for the former Governor to have her daughter win this contest. And you don't need to be a political organizer to understand that members of the Tea Party, which owes so much to Ms. Palin's campaigning this past fall, might be the first to rush to the phone lines to vote for the young Bristol.

All of which has given a fascinating subtext to this season's Dancing With The Stars, and it gives tonight's final competition a more dramatic potential payoff. Entertainment melding with politics. Big shock.

Having said that, our Sandy Kenyon is in Los Angeles for tonight's final dance-off, where he'll report for us, tonight at 11. We'll also have a live chat going during the show starting at 9:00 p.m. on 7online.com.

Also at 11, our investigative reporter Sarah Wallace takes a look at New York City's animal shelter system - the largest in the Northeast. And what she's found is disturbing: Animals housed in deplorable conditions, with cats stacked in small cages, and dogs often not walked for days. So how is this allowed to happen?

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, including Pres. Obama's reaction to rising tensions between North and South Korea, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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