We interrupt the political news cycle for this urgent bulletin:

Gabby Douglas, the pint-sized gold-medal Olympian and international darling, is insufficiently gung ho about America. Indeed, she exudes a "kind of soft anti-American feeling."

So says Fox News. I kid you not. That quote is real.

Leave it to the infauxtainment network to find something toxic to say about the Flying Squirrel. I didn't think such a thing was possible, but, sure enough, the tinpot patriots proved me wrong.

The other day, on Fox News' America Live show, one of the blond pundettes (no point in saying which one, they're interchangable) was alarmed because Gabby had performed her floor routine in an outfit totally devoid of American red, white, and blue. Over to you, pundette:

"Gabby had that great moment, everybody was so excited - and she's in hot pink!"

Yep, Fox News had the goods on Gabby. Right there on the screen was a still photo of the teenage sensation clothed in a pink leotard. The pundette was not happy about that. She intimated that Gabby's fashion choice symbolized the decline and fall of two-fisted American patriotism; she also waxed nostalgic for the days when Americans endlessly chanted "USA, USA." Then she summoned her studio guest, a tea-party guy, and asked him whether he agreed with her. And guess what. He did.

David Webb, a tea-party guy and radio talk show host, flashed his credentials right away: "I'm proud to be an American." He said this right after they flashed the photo of Gabby in pink, thus suggesting that Gabby by dint of her wardrobe had not evinced sufficient pride in being an American.

Webb continued: "What's wrong with showing pride? What we're seeing is this kind of soft anti-American feeling, that Americans can't show their exceptionalism....America is America, and we are a very nationalistic nation."

Gee. And here I had assumed that Gabby was a classic American dream success story. You know, the kind of kid who leaves home and family in pursuit of success and excellence, works very hard, and winds up two years later on top of the world, a kid who ascribes her success to "the glory of God" and is cheered on by her mom while her dad serves as an Air National Guard staff sergeant in Afghanistan....I had dumbly assumed that those facts alone were suffused in American patriotism.

But no, that pink leotard mattered so much more. When Fox flashed the photo on screen, Webb tut-tutted, "Look, there we go." And moments later, he began to riff on the Deeper Meaning of It All:

"We've also lost, over time, that jingoistic feeling...We've lost a little of that, you know, (by not) saying the Pledge of Allegiance. And I think this (pink leotard) plays over into some of this soft acceptance. You know what? Red, white, and blue - wear it. Wave it. Be proud to be an American...There's a meaning behind the red, white, and blue. It's been lost in time."

By the way, I just checked my Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, and it defines a "jingoistic" person as someone who "boasts of his patriotism and favors an aggressive, threatening warlike foreign policy," someone who exhibits "extreme chauvinism or nationalism." Perhaps Webb doesn't understand the true definition of jingoism; perhaps he didn't really intend to mourn the loss of warlike patriotism. Or maybe he did. But we'll never know, of course, because the pundette naturally failed to flag the loaded word and seek some clarity.

Anyway, Fox News has apparently given Gabby her marching orders: Be proud to be an American. Exude a "jingoistic feeling," not a "soft anti-American feeling." And, hey, I bet that if she can somehow train herself to twist, flip and fly while securely wrapped in an American flag, nobody at Fox will ever question her loyalty again.

Or maybe somebody should simply tell those studio patriots that true love of country is something that beats on the inside and doesn't need to be worn on one's sleeve.

Which is just a fancy way of saying: For Pete's sake, leave the kid alone.


-------

Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1