Right up front let me just say that I don't give a rip who wins tonight's American Idol. And the reason I don't care is because I live in Alabama -- home of Ruben, Bo and Taylor. If you have to ask who they are, you aren't from Alabama or an American Idol fan.
You see, the newspapers and local TV are just eaten up with Taylor Hicks:
It was bad with Ruben and with Bo. But this Taylor stuff is just beyond the pale. Turn on the TV and it's All Taylor, All the Time. It's even affecting politics:
So popular is "Idol" that the show's viewership in the state has exploded, dwarfing anything else on television.
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The "Hicks Factor" has created an unprecedented opportunity for Alabama candidates and consultants for the upcoming primary: practically the entire state is tuning in to 'American Idol' and paying rapt attention -- and to top it all off, they're voters! (If you count voting for your favorite 'Idol' contestant, that is!) Problem is, the cost of associating one's candidacy with Alabama's new favorite son is enough to bankrupt lesser campaigns.
As "Idol's" ratings have skyrocketed, so has the cost of 30-second ads, which can range from $5,000 up to $20,000. The "Hicks Factor" has even spilled over into morning and evening newscasts, whose ratings have been boosted by countless Taylor Hicks tie-ins.
According to information provided to us by one top consultant in the state, Fox's late news has seen a 63 percent increase in ratings due to the 'Idol' lead.
It has even gotten to the point that Taylor is being compared to another famous son of the South:
Taylor Hicks = Bill Clinton
Bulky, hoarse-voiced, gray beyond their years, and speaking with a bodacious cornpone drawl. Amazingly gifted yet dangerously self-indulgent (Bill's indiscretions, Taylor's dance moves). You either love them or loathe them; either way, you can't stop watching them.
Of course, I think the comparison of Katharine McPhee to Katherine Harris shows how terribly cruel the press can be:
Katharine McPhee = Rep. Katherine Harris
Can they sing? Count votes? Who knows? We're too busy gazing at that awesome mane of hair and stupendous cleavage. Which is no guarantee of success, as anyone following Harris's troubled Senate campaign knows -- though it will get you plenty of auditions
USA Today joins in on the Taylor-as-Clinton meme:
He has a bit of the best of Bill Clinton in him: Southern charm, sense of humor, and he's the guy most likely to garner a crowd while he rolls up his sleeves for the chicken and grits at the table. And he's probably the guy who will be elected to the highest office in the land, the Idol office that is, if he keeps up this enthusiasm and singing ability.
And from another media outlet we have the Top 10 reasons Taylor will win:
4. Taylor: now downloadable at such Web sites as www.graycharles.com. Katherine: more memorable for wardrobe cut so high on hip and low on bosom that you can watch her dinner being digested.
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1. Taylor reminds me of Bill Clinton, Sweet Home Alabama and Play That Funky Music -- all popular in the days when I was not close to AARP membership. Kat reminds me that my knees hurt, the living room needs new paint and I have kids to put through college -- the mundane concerns of middle age.
I suppose this means that Katharine will be wearing a blue dress tonight. Personally, I prefer "low on bosom" to Gray Charles.
But it would seem that Taylor Hicks is going to be a force in Alabama politics this year. So that begs two questions -- Is Taylor a Democrat or a Republican and who does Taylor endorse for governor?
In the GOP primary does he favor the soulful Roy Moore or that crazy hipster Bob Riley? Among Democrats does he prefer that sweet Southern belle Lucy Baxley or the rakish Don "I Am Not A Crook" Siegelman?
And lastly, have you heard anything more ridiculous?