The morning after Brandy's dismissal from "Dancing With the Stars," the 31-year-old singer and actress said she was shocked that lower-scoring Bristol Palin trumped her and will head to the finals. A Wisconsin man was so upset with the results that police said he shotgunned his TV, leading to a standoff with officers.
Brandy and dancing partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy scored a perfect 30 after their well-executed tango routine, and they already had accumulated 57 points out of 60 to Palin's 53 points. But viewers had their say, with a record number of votes that put Palin over the top.
The Internet has been abuzz in recent weeks because Palin has survived despite consistently low scores. There's a public debate brewing over whether Bristol Palin's success has much to do with her famous mother's political pull with conservatives, a major demographic of the show.
"In this case, you cross the finish line first and somebody barely finishes, and you get a tie because they showed heart," Chmerkovskiy said on "Good Morning America" today. "It's kind of difficult for me to deal with."
Brandy broke into tears last night after losing. But today she said the experience reawakened "a confidence and passion that I thought was gone. I've won back myself so I am forever grateful for that."
Elsewhere, experts were weighing in on the controversy. Matt Roush, senior television critic at TV Guide Magazine, said, "There are people on the political blogs who are saying vote for Bristol as part of your allegiance to the Palin brand."
The upset even apparently drove a 67-year-old Wisconsin man to blast his TV with a shotgun, leading to an overnight standoff with a SWAT team, according to the Associated Press. The alleged shooter, Steven Cowan, told authorities he felt Palin was a bad dancer who managed to stay on the show because of her former vice presidential candidate mother. The man was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment.
In an interview with Barbara Walters over the weekend, Sarah Palin addressed the controversy.
"What do we do? Call every Tea Party person? I haven't got the time," Sarah Palin told Walters. "Bristol has the greatest work ethic of any person I know. I knew that she would do well. And when 'Dancing With the Stars' called her and wanted her to be on the show, I said, 'Bristol, you know you're going to open yourself up to criticism just because of your last name. And Bristol said, 'Mom, you know it doesn't matter what I do. They're going to criticize me, so I might as well dance.'"
Even Bristol Palin, 20, admitted her dancing on the show so far had been lackluster, but said her performance resonated with viewers. "I started with no experience in dancing or performing at all, and I've come a long way," she said. "People do connect with me because they think I'm real and I'm not typical Hollywood."
Who survives on "DWTS" each week is based on the combined total of judges' scores and public votes. According to public relations guru Howard Bragman, who appeared on "Good Morning America" Tuesday, "Dancing With the Stars'" viewership sways Republican -- possibly giving Bristol Palin an advantage among the voting public.
"DWTS is a very big show among Republicans and not quite as big among the Democrats. It is very family oriented. Of course that's helping her," Bragman said.