For five years, the most wildly popular talent contest on American television has been dominated -- thoroughly, totally and completely -- by kids from Southern Hicksville, USA. Seven of the eight top-two finishers in the first four years were from states that once formed the Confederacy, and five of the seven remaining finalists this season are, too.
Home towns of winners and runners-up: Burleson, Tex. Columbus and Snellville, Ga. Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala. Chapel Hill and High Point, N.C. The lone outsider in the top tier, last year's winner, Carrie Underwood, only emphasizes the point -- she hails from Checotah, Okla. (pop. 3,400). This is Merle Haggard, "Okie From Muskogee" territory. We say that in the good sense.
But how is this even possible? Can't anybody in Detroit sing anymore? Can no one in Gotham knock out a show tune better than Clay Aiken? Dialing L.A . . . Hello? Hello?