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(Bristol) Palin Derangement Syndrome: Has ‘Dancing’ lost its ballroom cred thanks to Bristol?

While it’s hardly a championship ballroom competition, “Dancing With the Stars” is prime-time television’s star-studded answer to one. It has all the glitz and glam, and after several weeks of training and weak-link eliminations, it even has a small assortment of celebrities who’ve mastered the major moves.

Ideally.

In reality, “Dancing” doesn’t always hit that mark. A sanctioned ballroom battle strictly follows judges’ decisions, but “Dancing” invites votes from viewers, allowing a popularity element to enter the game. That means some talented hoofers are left behind before their respective times (see season five’s Sabrina Bryan and this season’s Audrina Patridge) and others long outlast their soft-shoe skill set. (See Marie Osmond and her baby-doll getup in the fifth season’s finals.)

Still, the talent-to-popularity equation almost always balances out. The winning waltzer may not be the very best the program has seen all season, but the final star is usually somewhat deserving of the honor based on dance-floor merit. The question is, will that hold true this time around?

After all, the season 11 finals are here and one thing is evident: last-place dancer Bristol Palin could actually win the competition, taking the mirror ball trophy and “Dancing’s” ballroom credibility with her.

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