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Rodeo queens are dumb, well mostly

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Miss Rodeo America.
Photo: Tom Donoghue/www.donoghuephotography.com

Rodeo queens from across the country have descended upon Las Vegas, united by their love of horses, leather fringe and big curly hairdos.

And the quest for world peace, of course.

Three of the 27 Miss Rodeo America contestants – Miss Rodeo Montana, North Dakota and Kentucky – yesterday mentioned their desire for world peace, albeit half-jokingly, during the pageant’s president’s luncheon.

While the repeated mentions of the classic pageant contestant wish were deliberate gags, the real laughs came from many of the queens’ attempts to answer serious questions about current events.

“These are not your ordinary, run of the mill questions,” warned recently re-elected pageant president, Tracy Damrell before the Q&A got underway.

While watching the collection of doe-eyed bleached blondes and more studious-looking cowgirls eat their steak and salad lunches, it was hard to tell if beauty or brains would reign supreme.

Miss Rodeo America Pageant

The queens fielded questions – some considerably better than others – about everything from offshore drilling and federal bailouts to global warming and the importance of a candidate’s running mate during a presidential election. China’s hosting of the Olympics, the U.N.’s relevancy, and affirmative action were also discussed.

Well, sort of.

Miss Rodeo Missouri, Janelle Schlobohm, was unable to tell the judges her thoughts concerning affirmative action because, well, she didn’t know what affirmative action was.

“I don’t want to waste your time, and I am very sorry,” she said. “Unfortunately I do not know this.”

While it’s easy to point out Schlobohm’s lack of awareness concerning the nation’s often controversial anti-discrimination program that benefits ethnic minorities, women, the disabled and veterans, judges might consider giving her some bonus points.

At least she was honest.

Many other contestants dug themselves into holes when asked about things they didn’t have a hot clue about.

None generated the kind of jaw-dropping, roll-on-the-floor laughing response as Miss Teen South Carolina 2007, Caitlin Upton, did during the Miss Teen USA pageant – but there were some close calls.

Miss Rodeo Alabama, Ellen Glasser, was asked what impact the 21 to 31 million Americans who don’t have health insurance have on the rest of the country.

Rather than expressing sympathy for the unnecessary suffering when a person can’t afford treatment, or the financial devastation caused by high medical bills, she simply told the crowd how good it was to be insured.

“Personally my family has insurance and my dad makes sure to have insurance on my family just in case something were to happen to one of us,” she said.

“If you have cancer and you’re not able to pay for it, there’s programs out there but it’s harder to find those programs if your insurance isn’t there, so it’s word of mouth that helps these programs to survive,” she added.

Glasser also called insurance “a liability” before stumbling offstage.

When asked what effect the Democrats’ control of both the Senate and the White House will have, Miss Rodeo Kentucky, Haley Miller, wasn’t quite able to connect the dots.

“I believe that even though one party has the majority … they’re all open-minded,” she said.

She didn’t say whether or not she thought a Democrat-controlled Congress might scrutinize the initiatives of a Democrat president or discuss how the Commander in Chief might abuse his position if given the unwavering support from Congress. Nope, just hope for open-mindedness to prevail - “And world peace,” she added before surrendering the mic.

Miss Rodeo Florida, Sydnye Weber, set eyes rolling when she credited “our economic standpoint” for lowered gas prices, then continued to spew out an 83-word sentence about her journey from Florida to Las Vegas, the extreme measures cowboys were forced to employ to deal with rising fuel costs this summer (a “buddy-up” system) and the country’s current shaky economy.

Smirks aside, there were some good answers to good questions.

Miss Rodeo Iowa, Aleigh Beahm, was asked whether or not she thought it appropriate to give amnesty to illegal immigrants who are currently living and working in the U.S.

She stressed the importance of background checks before supporting the notion.

“The Unites States is a land of immigrants,” she said. “We need to remember that all of us came from another country, originally, our ancestors.”

“And these people here, they are very hard workers,” she continued. “They are doing a lot of the jobs that we ourselves do not want to do.”

Halfway through the Q&A session, Miss Rodeo Oregon, Nichole Andrews, was asked what she thought about the record-high spending during the recent presidential election.

Andrews said that she would have rather seen money spent on education and health care instead of negative attack ads. Rather than aggressive radio and television spots, she suggested presidential and vice-presidential debates were more appropriate means of information gathering.

When asked why she thinks the Big Three are currently asking for a federal bailout while other U.S.-based automakers are not, Miss Colorado, Megan Grieve, suggested high wages might be stopping Detroit from being competitive.

“My dad and I were just discussing, on the way from Fort Collins, about how many of the employees actually receive over $70 an hour between benefits and between actual pay,” she said.

Grieve blamed powerful autoworkers unions for what she appeared to consider unsustainably high compensation.

Thursday’s Q&A was just part of the weeklong pageant that got underway on Nov. 29. The contestants will also be tested in areas including public speaking and horsemanship, as well as participating in a leather-laden, fringe-heavy, sequins and rhinestone-encrusted fashion show.

Miss Rodeo America 2009 will be crowned on Saturday during coronation at the Orleans Hotel and Casino. The pageantry will begin at 9:45 a.m. and the winner will be crowned at noon.

For a complete list of questions and answers, click here.

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Melissa Arseniuk

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