In the final round of the Miss Teen USA 2007 competition the five remaining contestants had to answer a question from one of the judges, picked at random. The answer could be no longer than 30 seconds.
First up was Miss South Carolina, who was asked the following question by Aimee Teagarden:
Q: Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?
A fair enough question, you’d think. Not the easiest question, but then neither is it the hardest either by any stretch of the imagination.
You might expect the answer to include a comment about education, about America’s media being fairly self-focused and not reporting much about anything beyond its borders … apart from the Iraq (sic), perhaps.
Here’s her answer in full:
I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, um, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our ch…”
She was so going to finish by saying “… for our children”, wasn’t she!
And now over to American comedian, writer and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel’s commentary on her answer:
I really want to be fair to her and offer some kind of defence of her answer, but … well, I’m not even sure OJ Simpson’s lawyers could offer a positive spin on that performance. It really was a stream of conscience poured out into 30 seconds of prime-time TV footage.
On NBC’s Today programme she offered this:
Personally, my friends and I, we know exactly where the United States is on a map. I don’t know anyone else who doesn’t. If the statistics are correct, I believe there should be more emphasis on geography in our education so people will learn how to read maps better.