THE BLOG
10/12/2011 11:16 am ET | Updated Oct 14, 2011

I'm With Stupid: If You Say It Wrong, It Kind of Sounds Like Shangri-La

OK, gang, forget everything you think you know about Angola. Are you done forgetting? Good. May I ask what, exactly, you forgot?

You say you forgot that Angola is a deadly disease that makes people vomit up blood? Wrong. That's ebola, which has not been found in Angola but occasionally breaks out in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Those of you who forgot Angola was a war-torn African nation were wrong, also, at least on the war-torn part. Angola's still in Africa, naturally, but it's no longer ravaged by bloody conflicts like the Angolan War of Independence (1961-1975) and the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002), which killed millions of people and left the rest poverty-stricken and starving. In fact, the safety sign on the wall in Angola currently reads: "No large-scale genocidal campaigns for: 3,285 days." That's not too shabby for a country in Africa.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that's pretty much all you forgot about Angola.

Anyway, the reason I asked you to forget all that is because there's something else you should have forgotten. Angola, in addition to not being a disease and not currently hosting a major war, is home to the reigning Miss Universe, Leila Lopes, who was crowned in Sao Paulo, on Sept. 12. Miss Lopes, the first African winner of the title in 12 years, would also like you to forget what you think you know about Angola, because she plans to use her tenure as Miss Universe to improve the world's view of her home country.

Now, I don't know what sort of pull Miss Universe has on other planets. For all I know, her victory could make Lopes as big in Europe as David Hasselhoff. Maybe she'll wield that kind of power over there, but as an American I had to laugh a little when I read that Lopes told BBC News, "Until two weeks ago, not many people could locate Angola on a map."

The poor dear. I love her enthusiasm, but she's a little delusional. I almost don't have the heart to tell her that everyone in America still has no idea where Angola is. Of course, she shouldn't take that too personally. Most Americans probably couldn't locate Africa on a map, either.

If there's anyone, though, who can convince the world that Angola is, as she said, "like the best place to be," it's Leila Lopes. She's a stunning, mocha-colored, 25-year-old, 5-foot-10 beauty, and we all know how much respect that commands in corporate board rooms.

Don't be surprised if charitable donations to Angola increase tenfold during Lopes' reign, or if we see a sudden uptick in foreign investment in Angola's lucrative oil industry. After all, horny old businessmen will let a hot chick talk them out of anything. But also don't be surprised if Lopes has a hard time convincing the rest of us that Angola is as wonderful as she says.

According to the CIA's World Factbook, Angola ranks dead last in the world in life expectancy, making it the only country on the planet where people are lucky to make it to 40. Angola does lead the world in two important categories, however, ranking first in both infant mortality rate and highest annual death rate. So when Miss Lopes says that "everything is going perfectly now" in Angola, understand that perfect is a relative term when a country has recently endured four decades of war.

Hopefully, with Lopes' help, Angola can capitalize on the peace that prevails there now and improve its position on some of those world rankings, because it probably is a nice place. It's got a long coastline that benefits from cool ocean breezes and a plateau-like interior at a high enough elevation to keep it from being oppressively hot all the time. And it doesn't have ebola.

But if Miss Lopes really does plan to put Angola on the map, so to speak, she'd better hurry. In recent weeks, protests similar to the ones that eventually toppled regimes in North Africa have been breaking out in Angola's capital city of Luanda. The protests have been small and disorganized so far, but leaders worry they could reignite the civil war.

Even if that happens, though, Miss Lopes will still have succeeded at improving Angola's image. Instead of thinking of Angola as a war-torn country, we'll now think of it as a war-torn country with at least one hot girl. At least until we forget about it again.

Todd Hartley says she's not really Miss Universe until Neptunians are allowed to compete. To read more or leave a comment, please visit zerobudget.net.

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