Jennifer Grey wins 'Dancing' - But ABC wins bigger

Jennifer Grey rightfully won on "Dancing with the Stars" last night. But the biggest winners were ABC and the producers of the reality-competition series who were able to maximize ratings by keeping Bristol Palin into the final night -- and then eliminating her as should have happened weeks ago.

Palin was the first to go Tuesday night, and it was no surprise as there were no more ratings points to gain. And a victory by this clearly inept dancer might have actually spurred calls for ABC to offer some accounting and verification of its secret voting system. Or worse, a victory by Palin might have caused some viewers to say they were through with being manipulated and would not watch next time -- as I and others did after the spectacle of Kate Gosselin.


But with Grey as winner, all is right with the world -- ABC has a hit show, and it can point to a system that rewarded the best dancer.

(Please click ahead for my prediction that Christine O'Donnell will play the Kate Gosselin/Bristol Palin role in the next cycle of "Dancing." It came to me in a vision after listening to all of Tom Bergeron's hyped up pimp-the-finale talk and staring at that stupid mirror ball for two mind-numbing hours Tuesday night.)

Grey is a great dancer and a great story. I just wonder how viewers feel about being manipulated by ABC and the producers with the Bristol Palin story line throughout the competition.

And by the way, wasn't it one of the weakest finale shows ever? Yes, it was.

I wonder who they are going to find to play the she-can't-dance-but-she-keeps-winning part in the next go-round. Anything short of Mama Grizzly herself is going to be a comedown. And I'm pretty sure "Stars" can't afford her.

Maybe they can get Glenn Beck. That's the thing about hopped-up, rigged reality shows like this: There is always room to go lower.

Oh wait, what about Christine O'Donnell, of Delaware? You laugh now. but she is perfect, and she's looking for work. And she has that culture-war mojo thing going just like Palin.

And ABC can distract viewers from any of its own vote manipulation by blaming her advancing week after week on evil conservatives, like those angry Tea Party folks, for gaming the network's otherwise honest system.  And liberal media outlets will lap up that phony narrative like catnip. And the cycle will repeat itself with even higher ratings.

Will O'Donnell wear a witch costume for one novelty dance? Will she dance with Bill Maher? Maybe they could have her dance with Keith Olbermann.

The possibilities are endless when you are willing to do anything for ratings. They'll have to remember, though, to keep a real dancer like Grey in the mix to win at the end.