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Web weighs Bo vs. Carrie as next Idol

The Internet chimes in as the U.S. gets ready for its weightiest election in a year--a vote for the next American Idol.

American voters will show up by the millions Tuesday to decide one of the most important issues of our time: Will the fourth American Idol be stiff but country-cute crooner Carrie Underwood or insouciantly smoldering rocker Bo Bice?

The upcoming showdown, expected to draw some 31 million viewers Tuesday and millions more when the results are televised Wednesday night, has generated more noise on the Web than the clearly far-less-pressing war over filibusters, with fans and cultural pundits hopping online to wage their last-minute bets and alternately dub this season the best and worst ever.

Jim Farber of the New York Daily News falls into the latter camp, noting that "whoever wins will be the worst victor in 'AI's' four-season reign of terror."

Casting the Carrie-Bo donnybrook as a culturally stultifying Hobson's choice, he writes, "She is a Nashville striver so plastic she makes Shania Twain seem like she was born in a holler. He's a should-be lounge singer who somehow mistook himself for a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Wouldn't it be great if both could lose? Alas, no such tender mercy can save us."

Still, Farber admits to a personal preference.

"I'm leaning toward Bo, if only because he has the higher profile, not to mention the ability to inspire more jokes on 'Saturday Night Live'--a sure sign of cultural resonance."

New York Newsday takes an altogether different view of the season, which was marked by such delicious scandals as a promising contestant mysteriously dropping out, a phone line voting mix-up, allegations of judge-contestant hanky-panky and the string of contestant arrest revelations to which we have become so accustomed since "Idol" hijacked our Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

"'Idol' has finally become a genuine talent contest, where the Very Good are competing against the Very Good, and not just against the Very Cute (How else to explain 's tenure?)," writes Newsday's Verne Gay.

Over at the Fans of Reality TV AI forum, a message board thread titled "Season 4: In 1 word?" elicited more than 100 responses within a couple of hours on Tuesday. Among them: snooze, overexposed, fantastic, unpredictable, predictable, bo-dacious (get it?), rigged, boring, improvement, and--to quote judge Randy Jackson's classic assessment of lukewarm performances--"a-ight."

According to America Online, Bo will be the winner, based on the number of searches for his name by AOL customers. A poll by AOL Television had Bo winning by 61 percent to Carrie's 39 percent. AOL actually issued a press release with the details.

Of course, as is to be expected with any noteworthy cultural phenomenon, eBay patrons are jumping into the fray with items such as a cup sporting Bo's visage.

Writes the seller: "I opened up a package of styrofoam cups at the office today and I couldn't believe what I saw!!! There were scratches on my cup, which seem to resemble the face of American Idol contestant, Bo Bice!!! Yes, Bo Bice!!! Could it mean that Bo Bice may be the winner of American Idol on Wednesday night???

Or...

Could it mean that I saw the other hilarious Bo Bice items up for auction and I thought that I could do better?

Or...

Could it mean that I'm jumping on the bandwagon, hoping to make a quick buck on eBay???"

There was no apparent interest from , but give it time.