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Bristol Palin's success has supporters dancing
TAMPA - Fans of "Dancing With the Stars" who suspect that a tea party conspiracy is keeping Bristol Palin on the show are upset that singer Brandy Norwood got the boot this week. Members of the audience audibly gasped, some booed and some followers of the show are crying foul. MTV's reporter called it "the most shocking elimination of the 11th season." A visibly shaken Brandy couldn't find words to describe her feelings upon learning that she was out. She had been favored to win this season but she was sent home Tuesday night after turning in a perfect score from the judges during Monday's performance. She had lost the popular vote, putting the less skilled Palin into the final three, alongside actress Jennifer Grey and Disney star Kyle Massey.Brandy's dancing partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, noted that what he loved about this country is that in a democracy "people vote and their voices count and I love the fact that the show represents that." Judge Bruno Tonioli almost pleaded with the viewers to be sure to vote because the balloting has been very close. The 20-year-old Palin has been getting support from conservative backers of her famous mother former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. One conservative talk show host launched "Operation Bristol" a few weeks ago. It has since been picked up by conservative websites. But she also apparently has a lot of fans who like the plucky young woman's determination to break out from her mother's shadow and take on this challenge. Bristol Palin says many teenage girls identify with her. Bristol's dancer partner Mark Ballas told US Magazine that people like her because she is "not a TV star, she's not a singer, she's not an entertainer of any kind. She's the most normal person; sweet, down to earth ... like a friend you'd hang out with. I think people can watch and relate to that." Bristol, who gave her best performance so far this week, has tried to deflect criticism that she is succeeding because of her mother's supporters. In an interview with E! News this week, she said "I work my butt off here. I rehearse every day. I am totally out of my element here. I think I deserve to be here. ...Think of all the people out there who hate my mom. It can work both ways with me being Sarah Palin's daughter." Because her mother has become such a polarizing public figure, "Dancing With the Stars" is being drawn into politics. "Sorry Haters, Bristol Palin Dances Into the Finals" is the headline on the Fox News blog today. "If Bristol Palin's presence on 'Dancing with the Stars' proved anything, it showed how partisan we've become," wrote CNN reporter Carol Costello. "The funny thing - or the sad thing - is just how much we've politicized everything in country." Lisa Gutierrez, who covers "Dancing" for the Kansas City Star predicts "Bristol will now go on to win the whole shebang. She doesn't deserve it. Everyone knows it, even, I suspect, the people who keep voting for her. Yes, Bristol has come a long way in her dancing, but she's not the best dancer. Not even the second-best, or third-best, or fourth-best. Her winning would be like William Hung winning 'American Idol'." The conservative website Hillbuzz.com has comments from Bristol supporters who feel she has been unfairly "crucified" by the left. "We need to strategize what we can do next week to give Bristol the BIGGEST PUSH EVER to see if we can actually win this competition for her," wrote one supporter. "If Bristol Palin is winning week after week on 'Dancing with the Stars' because of her mom's popularity then I believe there are huge implications for 2012 and the presidential election," says Tampa-based image consultant Glenn Selig. "Sarah Palin is a divisive person but if she is so popular that her popularity rubs off on her daughter, then you can't ignore that even though so many people want to write her off," adds Selig whose The Publicity Agency specializes in "reputation management."