Back in high school, a friend of mine and I had a kind of litmus test -- an instant and surefire barometer -- used to determine whether someone was a complete fucking idiot.
That test: sunglasses indoors.
I'm not talking about the person who walks inside from a sunny day and happens to leave his glasses on for a few minutes; I'm talking about the one who seems to go out of his way to purposely keep his eyes covered in the hope of, I'd imagine, escaping detection from that flock of adoring fans and the strobing flashes it'll soon be aiming in his direction.
Whenever my friend and I spotted this special brand of clown, one or the other of us would make a point to walk up to him and say something like, "Hey, you know, if it's too bright in here we can have somebody turn the lights down for you."
Sunglasses indoors screams one thing: douchebag.
So it's no surprise that during his interview this morning on the Today show, Billy Ray Cyrus kept his oversized neo-Elvis shades on the entire time.
Which confirms something I've suspected for quite some time but have hesitated in officially declaring.
Billy Ray Cyrus is the world's biggest douchebag.
From the over-the-top Beverly Hillbilly aesthetic -- the blonde highlights, ridiculous soul-patch and Gucci calfskin jacket meets University of Tennessee t-shirt he wears without even the slightest hint of irony; to the preening, ego-laden seriousness with which he takes his role on Nashville Star; to his insistence on spouting trite "country wisdom" every chance he gets -- as if he's still some dumb-ass hick living in Appalachia and not worth a goddamned fortune; to his comical belief that Achy Breaky Heart was actually some sort of cultural touchstone; to the fact that he's the father of America's most virulent social disease -- Miley Cyrus -- and a guy who's managed to shamelessly exploit his daughter merely for the opportunity she's handed him to thrust his own worthless ass back into the spotlight; everything about Billy Ray Cyrus's ill-advisedly inflated sense of his own self-worth makes him a walking joke -- a living, breathing advertisement for the necessity of safe and legal late-term abortions -- the kind of guy that, if you wanted to create a "douchebag army," you'd need only a tiny sample of DNA from.
This morning on Today, Cyrus was in fine form -- which means that he was a pompous idiot. As he adjusted himself on the high stool opposite Meredith Viera, assuming the one-foot-on-floor and the-other-on-rung-of-chair pose common to douchebags everywhere -- as if he were a J. Byron model, circa 1979 -- I waited patiently for him to apologize for his appearance. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he might have recently undergone some sort of eye surgery that had left his pupils dilated and therefore required him to wear sunglasses at all times. But no -- of course not. He was simply wearing them because he's just that cool.
Once again -- douchebag.
Viera began the interview by asking him about the full-length feature film he's now shooting with his retarded daughter and will soon foist on a defenseless American public.
Cyrus did a quick shake of his chemically straightened mane and said, "Yeah, it's gonna be great. We've got a great director, a great script, a great team of folks, and we're shooting in the great state of Tennessee."
I'm kidding about none of this and, as such, would highly recommend that Billy Ray invest some of that money he's making in a fucking thesaurus. And for the record, that "great director" he's talking about is Peter Chelsom, who helmed the forgettable TNT/TBS staple Serendipity and the atrocious Beatty/Keaton/Hawn "comedy" Town & Country, which was released in 2001, making it the second unfunniest thing to happen that year. In Cyrus's defense, I'm not sure that anyone who was raised thinking The Dukes of Hazzard is the height of artistry would be qualified to recognize a decent director when he sees one.
Viera then brought up, of course, the almost baffling success of his kid, Miley Hannah Cyrus Montana.
"Condé Nast says Miley will soon be worth a billion dollars," she enthused.
I held my breath and waited for Billy Ray to respond with an angry, "What'd you call my daughter?!" But no such luck. Instead, he flashed a full row of those perfectly capped teeth and reacted with what I guess was supposed to be pride but what looked eerily lupine. Suddenly, the utility of the sunglasses became obvious, as they were probably hiding the big-ass dollar signs in his eyes.
After awhile, Viera finally got around to the heavily promoted nexus of the interview: Billy Ray Cyrus's supposed "first public comments" regarding the media-driven scandal over his daughter's sexed-up spread in Vanity Fair. At first, she asked Cyrus whether he was even there when the most controversial of the controversial photos was taken -- the one with Miley looking like she'd just woken up after a one-night-stand with the Joker. Billy Ray insisted he wasn't, adopting a sudden air of bullshit humility as he quietly proclaimed that, at the time, he had to get to Washington where his presence was required at a gig honoring U.S. troops returning from Iraq. He dropped the troops at least one more time before the end of the interview.
When asked if he thought another of the photos -- the creepy-as-hell shot of his daughter draped over him while he stared pensively into the distance, presumably at the big bag of money off-camera -- was a little too explicit, as some have suggested, he basically didn't even bat an eye (at least not that I could tell with the sunglasses on).
"Nah, I think it just shows a daddy that loves his daughter a whole lot," he said, then added, apropos of nothing, "We love acting. We love music. We love each other."
"Well, thanks for not making that whole thing any weirder," I said out loud as I sat on my living room couch, munching Funyuns.
Viera then asked why Cyrus didn't fight back against the accusations of those who found the picture offensive. Cyrus, as expected, responded with some good old-fashioned frontier gibberish: "My daddy used to say that the more you stomp in poop, the more it stinks."
It was right about this point that my intestines began moving up through my throat in an effort to mercifully cut off the oxygen to my brain.
The whole thing ended with Cyrus offering one more pearl of wisdom regarding the whole miasma. "You git knocked down, you git back up," he said, smiling with apparent pride at his own profundity.
"Good advice," Viera responded, returning the smile.
I'm pretty sure my jaw went slack, I lost control of my bladder, and the upper part of my body tipped sideways until it plummeted into the couch like a falling redwood.
And all of this was before Today brought out The Clique Girlz -- three bleach-blonde 'tweens named Paris, Destinee and Ariel who look like Hot Topic exploded all over them and whose music is about to "take America by storm."
Wanna guess whose tour they've already opened for?
Congratulations Billy Ray, you pass the test with flying colors.