Booty Pageants 

The winners are lewd, rude -- and now socially acceptable.

I was deeply saddened by the news that Miss Kentucky, Tara Conner, almost had to relinquish her tiara after winning the Miss USA title. This development followed reports that she had tested positive for cocaine and, according to two delighted male witnesses, was seen making out with Miss Teen USA in a bar. So much for goals of world peace or helping crippled children.

Then, two days later, Miss Nevada USA, Katie Rees, was, er, stripped of her title by doing something heretofore thought impossible -- bringing shame to the state of Nevada.

Fortunately, a higher power intervened to forgive Tara of her sins and restore dignity to the crown. Who, might you ask, would have the standing, dignity, and moral imperative to grant such forgiveness? Why no other than "The Donald." Laugh if you will, but Donald Trump is a man who's all about giving second chances. His marriages and his hairstylist come to mind.

Trump surmised that since Tara was from a small town in the South, the lure of the Big Apple made her weak. Donald knows this scenario well, since he snared Marla Maples as soon as she arrived in New York from Dalton, Georgia. And I'll concede that Tara's home state of Kentucky (state flower: the satellite dish) is not as sophisticated as New York. But knowing that women are ugly and ornery in the Northeast, the natives have developed a fondness for beauty queens. (Besides, even if you could find a good-looking Miss New Jersey, it's hard to win when your talent is hot-wiring a Buick while smoking a cigarette.)

And while Miss Kentucky and Miss Nevada jeopardized their crowns, they know that they've greatly enhanced their chance to become the next Mrs. Kid Rock. Mindless and lewd behavior has become the new path to celebrity. These girls know that they don't need talent to achieve their 15 minutes of fame. Pioneering role models such as Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, Anna Nicole Smith, and Courtney Love have broken the glass ceiling for these girls.

In the end, I am not sure why this is even a story. These B-level pageants don't even pretend to measure a contestant's IQ or devotion to good causes. Trump's pageants are tawdry displays of young women for publicity's sake only. They ought to just put a brass pole on the stage and let the judges vote with crumpled dollar bills.

I was going to jump even harder on The Donald for his decision, but when Rosie O'Donnell did it first, I realized that I could not possibly be on the same side of an issue as her. So I'm now seeing Trump's side more clearly. These are The Donald's pageants, and he can do what he wants with them. (Still, I wonder what message it sends to Trump's next wife, who is probably still riding a tricycle and living somewhere in the former Soviet Union.)

The bottom line is that Trump, ever the businessman, saw the potential for exploiting women by displaying them to the world in a "beauty" pageant. He studied the pageant business and determined that they all had one thing missing: He wasn't getting a cut. So he bought the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageant on the cheap 10 years ago.

And while all the focus has been on his Miss USA pageant, I think his other pageant -- Miss Universe -- also needs scrutiny. Having watched it for years now, I've decided it must be rigged: Someone from Earth wins every year.

Ron Hart is a satire columnist and investor. He worked for Goldman Sachs and was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents by Lamar Alexander.

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