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GLOVER COLUMN: Miss USA showcases her talent

As you may or may not have heard, there has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding the current Miss USA in the past several days. Will she hold onto her crown? Will she be dethroned?

The rumor mill is working overtime coming up with new outrageous claims to pour down on the girl. The pageant officials will only say that they are looking into conduct unbecoming of Miss USA.

Here is what I have gleaned from various reports on the matter.

First, our current Miss USA, Tara Conner, has been a long-time figure on the pageant circuit. She began her Miss USA aspirations young and has been competing in pageants since the age of 4 (the fact that there are beauty pageants for children that young is a tirade that I will have to save for another time). She also was the second runner up for Miss Teen USA in 2002, so she is a seasoned veteran of the pageant circuit at her ripe old age of 21.

Conner won the Miss USA pageant in April this year and has been living in New York, as stipulated in the Miss USA pageant rules that force the winner to live in the state for the duration of their yearlong appointment. Conner turned 21 on Monday.

Here lies the nature of some of her predicament. You see, Conner, newly 21, has been seen traversing the New York bar scene prior to reaching the legal age for participating in such activities.

There are further rumors circulating that Conner has been seen partaking in some scandalous behavior while she enjoyed herself with drink and song at the establishments, for which she failed to meet the age standards set forth by the state. These rumors include insinuations that Conner was, dare I say it, making out while drinking at the bars. Maybe even making out with a person of the same sex, oh my.

There are also rumors that Conner has issues with substance abuse, has failed to make appearances set forth by her Miss USA taskmasters and that she is failing to meet other obligations stipulated in her Miss USA contract. The general feeling is that much of this lackadaisical attitude toward her responsibilities stem from her nightclubbing activities.

It has also been released by Access Hollywood, the leader in entertainment news (or worthless gossip, depending on how you look at it) that Conner will check into a rehabilitation facility today to work out her issues. The famed Caron Foundation of Wernersville, Penn., is where Conner will be hanging her hat until she works through her issues. The institution has worked with celebrity clientele prior to Conner like Steve Tyler of Aerosmith and Liza Minnelli, shining examples of the clean life.

Trump, who along with NBC owns the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, has said that Conner will not be dethroned for her actions that are unbecoming of Miss USA. He feels that she will bounce back and become &8220;that great comeback kid&8221; after her stint in rehab.

With the summation complete, there are several questions that must be begged:

4How does a person that has competed in pageants her whole life screw up so badly? I am not advocating underage drinking, but it seems to me that if one were going to engage in such activities one would try to be a bit discrete. This goes double if you are a high profile figure; I assume Miss USA would fall into the prominent figure category.

4Did she not think somewhere along the way that there might be some people interested in her behavior after she won the title? If not that does not bode well for the caliber of contestants that compete in the pageant. If so, then Conner has quite the lasse fair attitude about achieving one of the highest awards in the pageant world.

4Why has Trump allowed her to remain in the position of Miss USA? Has it come to a point that blatant disregard for policy, written policy that she signed, has become a non-issue? What sort of message does this send to the aspiring Miss USAs out there? Hey, you can go out break the law and disrespect the title that many women covet and get away with it. Oh, you need to be sorry of course, or maybe just check into rehab and say it wasn’t your fault; the drugs made you do it. Does that work in the real world?

4And my last question is, how did this get so big? The entertainment news, a large portion of news industry these days unfortunately, grabbed a hold of this and ran with it. I bet you could go into 10 bars in any city with a thriving youth scene and find quite a few underage people. If I had a dollar for every underage person I have come across at a bar I would be sitting on the beach somewhere. And as far as making out with people, that happens to be a side effect of drinking at bars. Get over it.

It is unfortunate that she broke the law and made a fool out of herself, but she is a person in her early 20s; mistakes will be made. However if you are going to make rules for people to follow, maybe enforcing them would help weed out the undesirables.

Brandon Glover is a staff writer for The Times. He can be reached at (334) 289-4017 or by e-mail to brandon.glover@demopolistimes.com.