If there’s one thing that they really, really love on Dancing With the Stars, it’s the suspense. And when we say love, we mean torture you until you almost want to change the channel back to Gossip Girl, which, to be honest, is what we’d rather be watching anyway. But alas, we cannot allow history—that is, the jiggyness of Tom Delay—go undocumented. Last week, DeLay sure looked in bad shape. The former House majority leader had been dancing so passionately that he suffered a painful stress fracture in his right foot. In spite of this, he had danced a pretty fluid tango—well, right up until he almost fell on top of his partner Cheryl Burke in the final seconds. Afterward, DeLay looked almost as if he wanted to cry when he told the judges how much pain he was in, but he narrowly escaped elimination when model Kathy Ireland was sent home. But goodness gracious, would DeLay be healthy enough to samba through Week 3? That was the big suspense Monday night, and ABC milked it for almost two straight hours, teasing the audience with tape of DeLay’s stage rehearsal earlier in the day, in which he was heard complaining about the pain. Host Tom Bergeron openly wondered again and again if DeLay would dance. But we’re not going to taunt you the way ABC mercilessly teased us. Let’s go to the tape.
The first shot of DeLay’s segment is of him in the studio, looking pretty vulnerable—well, as vulnerable as you can be in a baggy white shirt with an American flag on it. He’s seriously bummed out about blowing the tango. “The steps were clean, and you had a good frame,” Cheryl says, trying to cheer him up. But DeLay—red faced, and wow, is he crying?—won’t have it. “Eh, I just feel like it was such a disaster,” he says, eyes to the ground. “The ending was sooo horrible.” Cut to the confessional voice-over. “I feel very lucky I escaped the bottom two last week,” DeLay says. And then, with absolutely no warning at all, not one millisecond, the shot cuts to DeLay wagging his butt on the dance floor. Remember in Caddyshack when Rodney Dangerfield starts the dance party on the golf course? Yeah, it’s not that good. Cheryl is trying to teach DeLay the samba—“the party dance,” she says—but he looks more like C-3PO. “You’ve gotta get rid of the robotic dance,” Cheryl says. But wait, we’re actually sort of enjoying it. We’re not kidding—DeLay really does a great robot. Too bad this show is about ballroom dancing.
But oh no! DeLay’s in pain again, and this time, it’s not just his right foot, but his left too. Cheryl looks worried—and it’s not at the fact he’s reverted to tucking in his T shirt into his grandpa sweats. She tells him that maybe he’d better take it easy. Cut to DeLay, who, again, looks like he might cry. “What I don’t want to happen is to use my foot as an excuse for not spending the time we need,” DeLay tells her. We learn DeLay has daddy issues. “My father drilled into me as a kid, Never give up,” he says. In the studio, we see DeLay stumble, and Cheryl tells him to keep count. “I can’t,” DeLay says, limping away. “Dammit!” It turns out his doctor and the show’s producers think he should quit the show. “But I want to dance no matter what,” DeLay says. But it doesn’t look good. Rehearsing on the DWTS set, we see DeLay stumble again. “That hurt my foot,” DeLay says, all choked up. Cheryl doesn’t think he should compete. “It was hard enough dancing with one sore foot,” DeLay admits. “I don’t know if I can do it with two.”
Suddenly, we’re back live in the studio, and instead of being in position to start their dance, DeLay and Cheryl are standing near the judge’s table. Wow, is DeLay really going to quit? But wait, what in the heck are they wearing? Cheryl is wearing a blue sequined halter dress with a giant donkey on the front. DeLay looks like an overage candy striper, in tight red pants and a red-and-white-striped shirt. On the back of his shirt: a giant sequined GOP elephant. Classy. DeLay, who is grinning like a Cheshire cat, announces that he has stress fractures in both feet. Yikes. How is he standing there? And why is he smiling? Vicoden? “What's a little pain when you can party??” DeLay says. OK, maybe Jack Daniels. At his side, Cheryl covers her face in horror. We know the feeling. “Why is it so important for you to dance?” Bergeron asks him. “I’m insane or stupid…I can’t figure it out,” DeLay says, still grinning. No comment. And just as DeLay is about to hit the dance floor…OH! Commercial break. Thanks, ABC. You are the best.
Two minutes later, and we’re back. What will happen? Will DeLay crumble to the ground in agony? Will he summon the strength of Saint Swayze to dance through the pain? Their music tonight is "Why Can’t We Be Friends?" Get it? The first thing we notice is that DeLay has a very strange look on his face. We can’t tell if he’s counting or if that’s supposed to be his Sexy Samba look. Verdict: It’s weird. His footwork isn’t so bad for a guy with two gimp feet. About 30 seconds in, DeLay twirls Cheryl to the side, throws his hands in the air and begins gyrating his pelvis. There are. No words. A few butt shakes later, some tossing of fake money—really, you must watch it yourself—and it’s over. DeLay didn’t collapse in pain, and he didn’t drop Cheryl. All in all, it wasn’t bad. But wait for it: the camera pans over to what we’d describe as a pretty enthusiastic audience. There giving him a standing ovation: Lance Bass and Paula Abdul. This is what’s great about reality TV: a washed-up teen star and a woman whose biggest problem is that everybody thinks she’s drunk all the time wildly applauding a former Republican lawmaker awaiting trial for breaking campaign-finance laws. You just can’t make it up.
A few seconds later, DeLay strides up to the judge’s table. Seriously, the guy is on something. He can’t stop grinning. Suddenly, it feels as though we’re in an alternate universe. “You’re easy on the eyes when you dance,” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba tells DeLay. Come again? “There’s something about you that’s so smooth,” she says. The camera pans to DeLay, who looks like he’s died and gone to heaven. Grouchy Len Goodman, who has been getting booed all night for dishing out low scores, gushes too. “I think you’re a hero,” he tells DeLay. “If I had a stress fracture in both feet, I wouldn’t be judging.” Oh, Tommy. Finally, Bruno Tonioli calls DeLay a “super trooper”—though, in the first dose of reality, he reminds him the performance suffered. In the end, DeLay scored a 15 out of 30—putting him into second-to-last place heading into tonight’s elimination round. Will he survive another week? Please yes.
UPDATE, 4:30 PM: People reports that DeLay will bow out of DWTS tonight. No official word from the Hammer himself.