Once Again, Mr. DeLay Steps Down

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fractured feet did in former House majority leader Tom DeLay in his bid to make himself over from scandal-tainted pol to that nice old man who won the cheesetastic Mirrored Disco Ball on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."

The rump-shaking Texas Republican announced his resignation from the running Tuesday night -- 24 hours after he ignored the advice of show producers and a doctor in order to samba to War's "Why Can't We Be Friends?" while dressed in red and white stripes, a big GOP elephant across his back, with partner Cheryl Burke, who wore a backless little white-stars-on-field-of-blue number with a Democratic donkey planted on her thigh.

"You can't practice," DeLay told show host Tom Bergeron, about his decision to withdraw from the competition due to stress fractures in his feet.

"If you can't practice then you make a fool of yourself," said the man who, not to put too fine a point on it, had a Spangly Elephant on his back. "I don't want to do that to Cheryl."

On the bright side, thanks to his fractured feet, we won't have to watch DeLay dance the Texas two-step next week, as planned, wearing God only knows what. Or so we thought, for one happy moment.

"If you are feeling better later in the season, we would like to extend the invitation for you to do the Texas two-step in our finale," Bergeron stepped in.

"I'd love that -- that would be wonderful," DeLay gushed.

"Awwww," went the studio audience.

Political pundits had forecast DeLay would go far in the dance competition and might actually win because of his aggressive online campaign to get out the viewer votes. But TV-watching experts had seen the end coming Monday, when he played his Spangly Elephant card way too early in the competition -- this is only the third week of the show's ninth edition.

Another giveaway: the telltale "Don't worry about me, I'm okay -- did I mention my feet are broken?" comments DeLay made to the camera before Monday's competition, during Monday's competition, and after Monday's competition. Not to mention the little post-show interview he gave to People magazine, while his feet were dressed in "orthopedic booties," in which he said: "They're starting to tell me I shouldn't have done this" and -- of his broken feet -- "I ice them. I've got a bone stimulator machine that I put on them."

DeLay had tiptoed gingerly through the samba Monday; he descended a short flight of stairs looking like he had gum stuck on the bottom of his shoes.

"My father drilled into me as a kid: Never ever give up!" DeLay snarled at the camera, while giving the kind of do-not-mess-with-me look that could cause House Republicans to shake in their wingtips and vote to "save" Terri Schiavo.

The judges gave him the second lowest score of the night: 15 points. It was his worst score yet in the competition, though he was a perennial cellar dweller when it came to the judges' votes.

The first week of competition, DeLay's rump also cost him points.

He wiggled it.

In front of the camera.

Dressed in granny pants.

While cha-cha-ing.

To the Troggs' "Wild Thing."

It was horrible (sob).

Although DeLay stepped down from the race Tuesday, the show also dumped semi-washed-up actress Debi Mazar, who had received the week's fewest combined points from judges and viewers.

Also on Tuesday night's show, the dancers were asked to share their impressions of each other.

Sizing up DeLay, "Iron Chef" Mark Dacascos said: "He apparently loves rhinestones -- and shaking his booty!"

Favre Packs Them In

And you thought sports fans wouldn't watch a soap opera.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre's drubbing of the Green Bay Packers on Monday night attracted the biggest audience in ESPN's 30-year history and the biggest audience in the history of cable television.

About 22 million people caught Minnesota's 30-23 win over the Packers -- Favre's home for 16 seasons. Favre threw three touchdown passes against his former team, becoming the only player to win against all 32 of the National Football League's current teams, sports specialists say.

"This one carried a little more weight," Favre, 39, said of Monday's game in a televised interview, adding, "It was everything it was billed to be."

The game eclipsed everything offered to viewers last week on broadcast television; the week's top rated show on broadcast, CBS's "NCIS," had attracted 21 million viewers.

That also includes NBC's Sunday night football game, the San Diego Chargers vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, which attracted an average of 18 million people.

For the past few years, various ESPN-telecast football matchups have been inching ahead of previous games to set new all-time cable-viewing records.

But the record set Monday still isn't so far ahead of one longtime record holder: the November 1993 debate between Al Gore and Ross Perot on CNN's "Larry King Live" that had logged an average of 17 million viewers, an unheard of cable number in those days.

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