07/21/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Miss Universe in Vietnam -- Isn't That Wild?

Anybody who was alive and sentient during the Vietnam War had to do at least one double-take during Sunday night's NBC telecast of the Miss Universe Pageant. For one thing, the show originated live from Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon. The last time I think a prime time NBC show originated anywhere in Vietnam, it was a Bob Hope special, he was entertaining the troops on some base -- Da Nang, Cam Ranh Bay? -- asking them "how 'bout that Raquel Welch, isn't she wild?" -- and it certainly wasn't live.

Nor was it hosted, as Sunday night's program was, by Jerry Springer and Mel B (Scary Spice). Nor was it co-sponsored by ritzy golf resorts in Vietnam, nor executive-produced by none other than (Miss Universe Pageant owner) Donald Trump).

This must have been what John McCain and John Kerry had in mind when they advocated normalized relations with the former enemy. This, in 2008, is what passes for normal: a glitzy beauty pageant at a clone of a Florida resort hotel, staged at 8 a.m. local time for the benefit of prime time half a world away.

And this is what we're fighting for in Iraq right now, the ability for Donald Trump Jr. to stage a Miss Universe evening in Basra in 2042. Go for it, dude.