Onetime Enemy Country Hosts Miss Universe Pageant
Nearly a billion people tuned in to watch Donald Trump's Miss Universe contest, broadcast from the Diamond Bay Resort in Nha Trang, near Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam Sunday night, at which Venezuelan beauty Dayana Mendoza received the crown as the annual contest's 57th winner. In the minds of many, the glittery contest appeared to be symbolic of the former communist country's transition to a free-market economy. Although Vietnam's leaders continue to refer to themselves as communists, and one of Ho Chi Minh City's major attractions is an exhibit devoted to the country's defeat of the U.S. in 1973 and alleged war crimes by American forces, the war appeared to be ancient history to those presenting the contest, whose primary Vietnamese sponsors included commercial real-estate developer Hoan Cao Co., the Southern Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank, and the 584 Transport Engineering and Investment Stock Company. In a commentary posted on the Huffington Post, satirist Harry Shearer reminded readers, "The last time I think a primetime NBC show originated anywhere in Vietnam, it was a Bob Hope special. He was entertaining the troops on some base -- Da Nang, Cam Ranh Bay? -- asking them, 'How 'bout that Raquel Welch, isn't she wild?'"