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The Donald is the authority?

Do flat abs and sparkly teeth make you a role model?

Isn't it a bit bizarre that we judge bikini-clad beauty contestants on their moral values?

And that Donald Trump, a man who trades in his wife every 10 years, gets to make the final call on whether Miss USA is wholesome enough to be the national standard for feminine behavior?

For those of you unfamiliar with the drama: reigning Miss USA, 20-year-old Tara Conner, who won her title by parading on national television in a little gold bikini and metallic stilettos, has been accused of besmirching the dignity of the Miss USA crown. Conner came under criticism amid rumors she had been frequenting bars while underage.

As co-owner of the Miss Universe franchise, Donald Trump, who knows a good bit about young women because he's married three of them, almost dethroned her. But in a fit of mercy, he decided to send her to rehab instead.

In a highly publicized press conference, Trump bestowed his forgiving graces upon the poor little gal from Kentucky, who wisely opted for waterproof mascara that day. No rivulets of black goo marred her pretty face as she gushed tears of eternal gratitude for The Donald's Godlike reprieve.

Am I the only one who finds this just a little bit gross?

The image of a young blond beauty begging a middle-aged man for her job is bad enough. (And I'm being generous with the middle-aged part. Trump is 60.)

But since when did Trump become the authority on the moral high ground? As owner of the franchise, he can obviously do whatever the heck he wants, and I'm sure he didn't become a gazillionaire by not protecting his assets.

However, you'd think a guy with six kids by three different wives, one of whom he publicly cheated on and another he dumped weeks before their pre-nup expired, wouldn't be so eager to publicly pronounce judgments on the "behavioral and personal issues" of a 20-year-old.

Even weirder than Trump becoming the arbitrator of proper beauty queen behavior is how we choose role models for physical reasons and then expect them to meet moral standards.

Can you imagine parading young men in Speedos, judging who had the best abs and butt, then proclaiming the winner a hero for boys to emulate?

For the record, not all pageants are created equal. Miss USA (Trump's pageant) awards cash and prizes, while Miss America awards scholarships.

And Tara's not the first beauty queen to take a fall. Former Miss America Vanessa Williams resigned her crown after Penthouse published nude photos of her. During competition, barely covered is OK -- it's worth 15 percent of the total score. But take away three bits of spandex and you go from role model to smut queen faster than you can say goodbye corporate endorsements.

I was all set to go off on a feminist rant about this, but then I realized we do the same thing to young men. Only it's not their beauty that anoints them role model status, it's their athletic ability.

For every fallen beauty queen, there's a major league athlete who has disappointed fans when his character proved less perfect than his pitching arm.

How many times do we have to watch a Nicole or Lindsay implode, or a Kobe or Pete spin out of control, before we realize that physical perfection does not equal moral or spiritual perfection?

I know we want role models, and some of the pretty people may actually be good ones.

But if being slim and blond is your only claim to fame, it's just a matter of time before you feel as shallow and empty as the criteria by which you were judged.

And even Trump will tell you, you can't earn respect with your hair.


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