Back again is the baffling, and ultimately annoying phenomenon seen in Season 11 as better dancers, one by one, got their hats handed to them while wooden-faced Bristol persevered in the competition. Can any fan of the show forget the wounded look on singer Brandi's face when she went home instead of Bristol?
As now-gone contestant Pamela Anderson joked last week, Palin "has the whole Tea Party, right?"
With Palin under the protection of her Red State fans, the finger of doom swung Tuesday to paunchy ex-NSYNC band member Joey Fatone. In his two routines this season, Fatone tried to fire up the comic cutups that carried him far in Season 4.
This week's routine had him dressed as a Charlie Chaplin character. The dance's finale had him leaping toward a couch where luscious partner Kym Johnson waited, only to overshoot the mark and fly over and behind the couch.
"Everybody had a good time. ... People said I was fun, that's all that matters," said Fatone after getting the bad news.
Getting back to Bristol: This is going to be a tedious thing to watch if she lingers in this all-star competition of extra-sharp contestants. She was hands down the worst dancer on Monday, which was reflected in her scores from the judges.
Instead of doing the smart thing, which would be to modestly say, "Hey, what can I do? I can't help it if they're voting for me," Bristol instead showed a sulky side over the judge's low scores for her flawed country-western quick step.
"It is what it is. I'm going to get sixes no matter what. ... I don't ... whatever ... it's all good," said pouty Bristol, who seemed to see a conspiracy against her.
At age 21, Bristol's closest contemporary in the show is gymnast Shawn Johnson, 20. The difference between the two couldn't be wider. Johnson has achieved so much in her life, winning gold and silver medals in the 2008 Olympics and the "DWTS" mirrorball trophy in Season 8. Johnson is all smiles and a quintessential little trouper, while dour Bristol's main claim to fame is ... well, we won't go there.
To be fair, the fan vote is part of the built-in mechanics of "DWTS." And the fan vote has been able to swing success toward more engaging performers - Castroneves, Emmitt Smith and Johnson - who all managed to grab the mirrorball trophy away from technically superior, if less popular competitors.
With Palin, it's just the magnitude of the ground that has to be made up by fan support. When the judges routinely, and correctly, give her the lowest scores of the night, it takes that much more volume from fans to bring her back above water.
In this election year, Mitt Romney may not win, but it's possible Bristol Palin could do very well from Red State supporters who think a vote for Sarah's daughter equals a big, juicy raspberry for the liberal establishment.
"DWTS" host Tom Bergeron announced that next Tuesday will be a double elimination. If Bristol survives that, she really needs to work on her spin of how it's justified.
Joining Fatone in the bottom two was race car driver and Season 5 champ Helio Castroneves, who had a fine dance Monday. The competition is so fierce this season that one can't help but want the results to be based on talent.