Despite her lackluster scores, melodramatic viewer protests, and charges that her fans are "cheating" the voting system, Bristol Palin has advanced to this evening's finals on "Dancing with the Stars." Although many people seem determined to find controversy in this turn of events, says Linda Holmes at NPR, it's patently obvious that this is a "non-scandal." The reality contest "has never, ever, ever been about who's the best dancer," says Holmes, and "the voting part of the show is a popularity contest... and can't really be forced to be otherwise." Here, an excerpt:

This particular brouhaha is a whole lot of nothing. Trying to outsmart voting systems by being willing to sit for two hours and devote yourself to the task is not specific to Bristol Palin or to people of any particular political stripe, and the fact that a bunch of message boards are taking credit for changing the result doesn't mean they're actually doing it...

...unhappiness about the fact that Palin's mother has political followers who are lending her their support has to be addressed to the casting decision to put someone on the show whose only claim to "stardom" is her relationship to her mother's political career. Once that decision was made, the fact that it played out as everyone knew it would? Well, that's hardly her fault. Had Tom DeLay not broken his feet a couple of seasons back, which forced him to drop out, his political supporters would have been voting for him, too. Political figures bring political fans, just like soap stars bring soap fans and football players bring football fans.

Read the whole story at NPR.