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Tom DeLay’s Texas two-step on 'Dancing With the Stars' has critics hissing – first photos

August 31, 2009 |  7:51 am

In what has to be the oddest melding of popular culture and political life since television discovered Rod Blagojevich, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay – now facing charges of  money laundering and other ethics violations – is practicing with professional dancer Cheryl Burke for next month’s return of “Dancing With the Stars.”

ABC has just released the first photos of the two practicing, and the very sight was enough to send liberal critics hissing.Abcdelay

Humor columnist Celia Rivenbark, writing for the McClatchy-Tribune News Service, has dubbed the event “Dancing With the Creeps.”

"Somewhere Michael Vick's agent must be slapping himself upside the head and wondering why he didn't think of that,” she wrote. “What's next? An Argentine tango demonstration by (amazingly, still) S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford?”

DeLay, who was known in Washington as “The Hammer” for his hard-pounding political tactics, has reportedly lost 12 pounds in preparation for the big contest.

But will the dancing soften his image enough to convince Travis County Dist. Atty. Rosemary Lehmberg not to press ahead with the corruption case against him?

090830_delay_slide3_297 As The Times’ Matea Gold reported earlier this month, the show’s producers deliberately selected the combative conservative in hopes of broadening the audience.

"Every season, we try to change the game a little and spread the net a bit wider," said Conrad Green, executive producer of "Dancing With the Stars." "We wanted someone sort of iconic and who the audience would have strong feelings about."

DeLay would certainly qualify on that front. Already, angry viewers have protested on ABC’s message board. Wrote one: “I guess you couldn't get Bernie Madoff."

 -- Johanna Neuman

 Photo: ABC’s "Dancing With the Stars" 

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