Honesty Not Best Policy in Miss USA

Speaking her mind lost the pageant for Miss California

 The 2009 Miss California, Carrie Prejean, must not have seen the 1989 documentary "Roger & Me." In it, provocateur Michael Moore asks Miss Michigan (Kaye Lani Rae Rafko) about the dismal job-scarce reality of Flint, Mich.

"How does that make you feel on a personal level?" Moore queries.

"A little sad," Rafko replies. "Of course, I'm for employment ... and working in Michigan."

That's a pro at work. Who can ever fault you for being pro-employment?

Prejean surely had been coached on how to coast around beauty pageant questions, but when judge/provocateur Perez Hilton asked her near the end of this year's Miss USA pageant about states legalizing gay marriage, the pretty, blonde San Diego Christian College student slipped up. She spoke from her heart. She stated her personal belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Oops. Controversy. A front-runner until then, she didn't win.

Prejean's answer prompted Hilton, a blogger/celebrity watcher to publicly call Prejean "a dumb bitch." Hilton later apologized. Then he rescinded his apology and added that he should have used the "C" word to describe her. (Note: the "C" word is not "Christian.")

The openly gay Hilton is entitled to his opinion. His choice of adjectives weakens his credibility. It does, however, get his name in headlines and news stories -- always good in the celebrity blog business. Perez is playing the fame game and winning.

If Prejean's goal was -- obviously -- to be Miss USA, she blew it big time with an inarticulate, fairly honest answer. She could have walked the fence, to the effect of: "Of course, I'm for marriage ... and the legal systems of states in this great country." Politi-speak could have won her a crown and all the spoils.

There's no room for personal expression, however, in the monumental celebration of superficiality that is the Miss USA pageant. You model a bathing suit and an evening gown, and try not to fall down when you cross the stage. It's Perez Hilton/s world. The rest of us will have to do our best to ignore "Access Hollywood"-style coverage of real-life issues of concern. 

Ron Donoho, formerly executive editor of "San Diego Magazine," is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com who covers local news, sports, culture and happy hours.

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