Lauren Upton during her nationally-televised blonde moment (NBC via AssociatedContent.com)
In less than a minute last Friday night, South Carolina's entrant in the "Miss Teen USA Pageant" managed to make herself a national laughingstock, providing a completely incoherent answer to a judge's question on why many Americans can't find their country on a map.
The Talkmaster, You Tube and other sites have the video (if you haven't seen it already). From what we can gather, Miss Teen South Carolina (Lauren Caitlin Upton), believes that our geography woes are the result of...well, you figure it out:
"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps, and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq everywhere like, such as and I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., er, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our children."
For the record, Ms. Upton was third runner-up in the pageant (draw your own conclusions). And, according to World Net Daily, she's a product of South Carolina's public school system, graduating from Lexington High School last June with a 3.5 GPA.
In fairness, we should point out that Ms. Upton is only 17--still a proverbial "skull full of mush," as El Rushbo might observe. She appeared nervous, and the pageant was broadcast live--no chance for retakes. And, by her own admission, Upton apparently lost her train of thought, although some might say that particular choo-choo is easily derailed. Whatever the reason, it was an extreme blonde moment of the worst kind, and thanks to the internet, her discourse on geography will live on forever.
What we find interesting is the (apparent) lack of media interest in Upton's own educational background. World Net Daily is one of the few outlets who bothered to find out where the contestant acquired her knowledge of geography (and other subjects), although the information was apparently available in her pageant biography.
Now, let's suppose for a moment that Miss Upton had been homeschooled. Do you think the media coverage would highlight that element, as a possible explanation for her blonde moment? If your answer was "yes," move to the head of the class. Instead, we get comments from her former principal, who remembers Upton as a "well-rounded" student (ahem) that took honors classes before graduating.
And despite her televised meltdown, we won't dispute the principal's characterization of his recent graduate. Lauren Upton probably is a bright young woman, but she's also a product of our government schools. Reading between her garbled syntax and incomplete thoughts, it looks like she was aiming for a typical liberal response, suggesting that our education system (and students) are suffering because of the effort (and resources) being devoted to the War in Iraq.
And where do you suppose she learned that?
ADDENDUM: In hindsight, it appears that Ms. Upton's mental debacle may be the shrewdest beauty pageant move since Vanessa Williams decided to post nude, or Tara Conner developed her drug habit. The video of Upton's "answer" has received over two million hits on You Tube, and she was a guest on the Today Show thing morning. For better or worse, a lot of people know who Lauren Upton is. Unless you watched the pageant, you've probably never heard of Hilary Cruz, the Colorado teen who actually won the competition.