The fact that Bristol Palin made it into the finals has a lot of people scratching their heads (or mailing white powder to the set). But it's no conspiracy.
"She deserves it," Dancing With the Stars executive producer Conrad Green says. "A significant portion of our viewing audience believes that, too."
Week after week, as Bristol advances and superior talents like Audrina Patridge, Rick Fox, and Brandy have fallen, conspiracy theories have surfaced.
DANCING FINALIST: Like it or not, Bristol Palin (with partner Mark Ballas) will be competing for the MirrorBall trophy in this week's finals. Will she actually win it?
Speculation has arisen about whether the Tea Party, which strongly supports her mom Sarah, is involved in an organized effort to promote Bristol.
On one conservative Web site, Freerepublic (dot) com, some of the site's 300,000 users have used discussion threads to encourage votes for Palin.
Bristol Palin, that is.One asked users to "make liberal heads explode and vote for Bristol" Nov. 8 to advance her to the semifinals. That's pretty much what happened.
But Green insists, "There's nothing in the voting system that looks at all strange."
He says that the entire process – text votes, call-in votes and email votes – "is all overseen by the Broadcast Standards team, independent of us and the network to make sure that everything is absolutely done scrupulously."
While some say the show's credibility is in question after this year, Green says this isn't the first time a less skilled dancer has made it this far.
Of Bristol's surprise run, he says, "You can argue whether or not she deserves to be there more than someone else who the judges have assigned to be a better dancer, but then make sure you vote for that person. It's not rocket science."
He also notes that plans to change the system to give the judges' scores more weight than audience votes are false, because that's already in place.
"Everyone is having a go at our system, but unlike American Idol, our professional judges count for half of the total for each couple each week, so there's already a built-in attempt to make the dance quality matter," Green says.
"We set the rules down and this is the game and if this is how it turns out, then this is how it turns out. I think it's absolutely fair."
What do you think? Does Bristol Palin deserve to be in the finals?