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    Miss California to Keep Her Crown—at Least Until Tomorrow

    For the time being, the only thing Carrie Prejean has been stripped of is her clothes.

    Despite rampant speculation that the controversial yet still reigning (for now) Miss California would be stripped of her title, state pageant organizers have just announced the honor of deciding Prejean's fate would instead fall to Donald Trump, who will announce his decision at a press conference in New York tomorrow morning.

    Prejean was invited by pageant organizers to attend this morning's press conference, but opted not to attend, instead hopping an early flight to New York.

    However, Miss California coexecutive directors Shanna Moakler and Keith Lewis were present and more than made clear the recommendation they gave to Trump on behalf of their state.

    "Up until now, we have just been riding along, pretty much a passenger on this runaway train," Lewis said. "As of today, that ends."

    Whether or not Prejean retains her title beyond tomorrow morning, Moakler and Lewis today appointed what will more or less serve as a shadow Miss California, installing runner-up Tami Farrell as the official ambassador to the pageant's newly launched Beauty of California initiative.

    In her new role, which sounds an awful lot like Prejean's current role, Farrell will represent the pageant at appearances across the state.

    "Regardless of what takes place tomorrow, we're still going to be able to fulfill our vision," Lewis said, adding that it "ensures that someone will fulfill the responsibilities of the title," whether that title stays with Prejean or not.

    "If Miss California is unavailable, or it would be unwise to put her into a specific appearance, we now have an ambassador that can represent us so we can just get back to business."

    Ditto if Miss California simply fails to show up for scheduled appearances, which Moakler and Lewis say has been the case with Prejean, whose newly appointed army of handlers have prevented the codirectors from any sustainable contact with the beauty queen.

    While Lewis said that their pageant had, thanks to the recent media firestorm, been "hijacked" in recent weeks, they are now "getting back to the business of beauty."

    "Our platform now and always has been the beauty of California."

    It has not, as has been spun by conservative types, to silence Prejean. In fact, Lewis said that at no time did they ask Prejean to recant her beliefs opposing same-sex marriage and say they even encouraged her to stay true to her opinions.

    What they took issue with instead is the 21-year-old's failure to disclose her recent spate of topless photos (a third surfaced just this morning) and her contract-violating spokeswomanship for the National Organization for Marriage.

    "For us, the severity of nudity is not the issue," Moakler said. "The fact that she entered the contest under false pretense is."

    They don't hold Prejean entirely responsible, however, instead blaming the conservative organizations who recruited her to promote their own agenda, having sensed a "glimmer of an ally," without properly preparing the beauty queen.

    "Shame, shame, shame," Lewis said, adding that if Prejean is stripped of her crown, it will be "not for her beliefs, but for the breach of contract you so willfully encouraged.

    "Time for you to find someplace new to find your henchmen."

    (Originally published May 11, 2009, at 10:59 a.m. PT)

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