I sat down last night to watch the Miss America Pageant, my long-standing guiltiest of all guilty pleasures.

Miss A., as you know, has fallen on hard times. First ABC dumped her. Then she ditched her long-time home, Atlantic City and high-tailed it over to Vegas -- a weird fit if ever there was one.

Country Music Television stepped in to air the proceedings, but the pageant was pushed from September all the way to January. The scholarship dollars were slashed from $50,000 for the winner to a mere $30,000 -- not enough, critics pointed out, to pay for even a single year at a reputable college. (Not that it matters: most of the recent serious contenders have already racked up undergraduate and graduate degrees, the better to wow the judges with their erudition and devotion to recycling/early childhood intervention/AIDS awareness).

Perhaps worst of all: the rise of reality television. Why tune in to watch fifty glossy-toothed goody-goodies in modest bikinis and evening gowns competing for paltry scholarships and proclaiming their love for world peace, small children and animals when you could tune in to, say, Survivor and watch a dozen cutthroat babes in not-so-modest bikinis scratch and scheme and roll around in the mud for a million bucks? Whither Miss America in the age of American Idol, Paradise Hotel and Paris Hilton?

And, most importantly, would anyone dare reprise Miss District of Columbia 2001's Marshawn Evans' show-stopping turn with the flaming batons?

I was dying to find out.

So I wrapped up in my favorite blanket, turned on the TiVo, and....nothing.

Turns out my cable carrier doesn't carry the Country Music Television.

I am bereft.