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Tony Kornheiser

Olympics Could Never Compete With Must-See TV: Miss America

October 04, 2000|Tony Kornheiser

What happened to Miss America?

(Did someone in Bush headquarters drop her in an envelope and mail her to Tom Downey?)

The Miss America Pageant is always on TV in September. I know because I watch Miss America every year. Like all guys do, I tune in for the parade of 50 Miss Whatevers. I pick the 10 prettiest women. (I do this without regard to "talent," except as the word "talent" is used in men's locker rooms, which is to say it doesn't matter if Miss America can play a Bach concerto on an accordion, as long as she can balance a lunch tray on her chest.) I then watch as none of the 10 prettiest women are selected to be finalists. Then I get a beer and go into the den and watch college football.

Tony, aren't you being a sexist pig? Again?

Oh, Miss America isn't a sexist show to begin with? It's what? "Meet the Press" in bikinis?

But my point is that this year Miss America will be televised in mid-October because ABC didn't want to throw it against the Olympics. This is an outrage.

1. It gives the reigning Miss America another month of Kiwanis Club lunches to eat. As it is, when she appears for her final strut in the spotlights, she has usually gained so much weight they have to put pontoons under the runway. And that's after 12 months. This is 13. By mid-October, they may have to lower her through a skylight on a crane.

2. Tradition also holds that the morning after Miss America is crowned, she wades into the surf at Atlantic City and poses for photos. When she does this in mid-October, she'll set one beautifully manicured toenail in the surf and turn into a frozen Babe-sicle, leaving the first runner-up to become Miss America! This is dicey, because the judges often give first runner-up to a woman whose strength was in the talent competition--meaning she can do one of those hideous clogging Riverdances, or twirl flaming batons while filling out a 1040 tax return (long form). Sadly, she often looks like a hod carrier.

The dirty little secret is that the Miss America Pageant would have crushed the Olympics head-to-head. "Mr. Ed" reruns would have crushed the Olympics. If the Olympics' ratings were any lower, NBC would be releasing canaries.

But all the Olympic sob stories have made it hard for Miss America. What can she say to make her life sound more tragic than the Olympian who carried the U.S. flag in the opening ceremonies, who 12 years ago was electrocuted on the job! Twelve-thousand volts, baby! What can Miss America counter with? That she's allergic to lip liner? That once she had a soft contact get stuck in her eye?

October is the wrong month for Miss America. Just as September was the wrong month for 15-year-old Jonathan Lebed, who lives at home, watches the WWF on TV and--oh, by the way--manipulated the stock market so skillfully that he was charged with securities fraud and had to pay the feds almost $300,000 in illegal profits and interest.

According to a Time magazine story, what Jonathan did was buy blocks of thinly traded stocks, thereby jacking the price up. Then, Jonathan went online and touted these stocks in chat rooms "with as many as 600 messages under different names," proclaiming they were about to hit the roof. A bunch of dopes saw his messages and bought the stocks. Jonathan sold his shares and made a killing.

This enterprising young man appealed to his fellow man's stupidity and greed. If this is illegal, then every "collectibles" dealer who has ever sold a ceramic plate with a likeness of Elvis or Princess Di should immediately be put in prison.

For this they arrested the kid? They should have made him a United States senator!

I love this kid. I wish he was my kid. My kid is 14, and he also lives at home and watches WWF matches. When's he gonna start swindling people? What's he waiting for, Miss America?

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