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Miss Utah's answer and what we should be talking about

Salon.com's Irin Carmon and MSNBC's Alex Wagner discuss the bigger issues that a flubbed answer during the Miss USA pageant should have invoked.

Miss USA contestants on current events

Updated

During this year’s Miss USA beauty pageant, the interview portion of the competition was an even hotter topic than the swimsuit event.

The crown went to the 25-year-old accountant from Connecticut. But it was Marissa Powell of Utah who got all the attention. Asked why the gender gap persists in America, Miss Utah responded with an answer so tangled, it joined pageant lore along with the 18-year-old Miss South Carolina, also known as the “such as…” candidate, or Carrie Prejean from California who insisted that marriage “should be between a man and a woman” to Perez Hilton. And although her answer didn’t occur during the big interview on stage, who could forget Miss California 2012 Leah Cecil’s beliefs about euthanasia becoming legalized?

“That’s one of the things I’m not educated on so I need to look up on what that means … but I do know that’s a vaccine,” Cecil said while practicing for the competition’s Q&A portion.

Below are the responses from the finalists, in case you missed what everyone was reacting to on Twitter last night.

Miss Utah Marissa Powell (3rd runner-up)

Nene Leakes, reality TV star: “A recent report shows that in 40% of American families with children, women are the primary earners yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?”

Miss Utah: “I think we can relate this back to education and how we are continuing to try to strive to … [long pause]… figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem and, I think, especially the men are seen as the leaders of this, so we need to … [shorter pause] … create education better so we can solve this problem.”

Miss Alabama Mary Margaret McCord (1st runner-up)

Wendie Malick, actress: “Government tracking of phone records has been in the news lately. Is this an invasion of privacy or necessary to keep our country safe? Why or why not?”

Miss Alabama: “I think this society that we live in today, it’s sad that if we go to the movies or to the airport, or even to the mall that we have to worry about our safety. So I would rather someone track my telephone messages and feel safe wherever I go, than feel like they are encroaching on my privacy.

Miss Illinois Stacie Juris (2nd runner-up)

Bob Harper, television personality and personal trainer: “Due to the problem of binge drinking on college campuses, a growing number of college presidents are encouraging lawmakers to lower the drinking age. Do you agree that this will promote responsible drinking? Why or why not?”

Miss Illinois: “I think if you’re gonna drink irresponsibly, you’re gonna do so whether you’re 18, 19, 20, or 21. I think it’s important to encourage our youth to be responsible and drink responsibly, and look out for the safety of those around them as well as themselves.”

South Carolina Megan Pinckney (5th runner-up)

Christina Milian, singer and actress: “Should people who leak classified documents in the name of public information be charged with treason. Why or why not?”

Miss South Carolina: “I don’t believe that they should be charged with treason. Personally, I think that being a part of this country, we have been given specific documents for specific reasons. Our lawmakers have put that into their decisions for certain reasons,  and if we feel the need to have to show those documents, then I think that we should show them.”

Miss Connecticut Erin Brady (Miss USA winner)

Mo Rocca, political satirist: “Miss Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled that criminal suspects can be subjected to a police DNA test after arrest. Do you agree or disagree with this? Why or why not?”

Miss Connecticut: “I would agree with this. I think that if someone is being prosecuted and has committed a crime that’s that severe, then they should have a DNA test. I think that there are so many crimes going on in this world that if that’s one step closer to figuring out who has done it, I think we should absolutely do so.”

Miss Texas Ali Nugent (4th runner-up)

Betsey Johnson, fashion designer: “In a recent beauty pageant, bikinis were banned among protests from religious groups. As someone who competed in a swim suit tonight, do you believe such groups should have that influence? Why or why not?”

Miss Texas: “I think we live in a country where we have freedoms that people around the world don’t. And we have the ability to vote for things we agree with and against things we don’t agree with. I personally am very confident with myself and I feel perfectly fine being up here in front of millions of people in a swim suit, but I absolutely agree with those people. They have the right to stand up and vote against whatever they feel is not necessary.”

Erin Brady, the newest Miss USA, told the Associated Press she hoped to dispel the myth that intelligence was not factored into the competition. “I think that now more than ever, they’re accepting that we’re all intelligent individuals and that it’s really not a stereotype,” she said.

Miss USA contestants on current events

Updated