''Joe Millionaire''

Party Pooper

Linda dumps Cowboy Dave. The Czech model could have had it all, but her wimpiness cost Dave a shot at true love, says Liane Bonin

THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY Linda couldn't take the pressure, so asked to be cut
Image credit: Joe Millionaire: Fox
THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY Linda couldn't take the pressure, so asked to be cut

Linda dumps Cowboy Dave

Fox must have received a warm and squishy response to the horse manure shoveling of the first ''Joe Millionaire,'' since poop scooping made a less than welcome return to the show in last night's episode. The Eurobabes were asked to muck out the barn before a dreamy day of horseback riding and camping could commence, which resulted in the usual whining but a more R-rated aroma than last season's cleanup job.

You'd think that the frank language of our millionairess wannabes would have given the show's producers pause before they plopped them knee deep in horse dip, but instead they gave the gals an opportunity to use the s-word in a wide variety of colorful ways (noun, adjective, expletive, repeat), resulting in a segment that had so many bleeps it started to sound like a message from the Emergency Broadcasting System.

While we expected Olinda and Lina to whinny about how they'd rather be at a mall or getting a mani-pedi, it was a shock to hear Giada, the earnest Italian, rant on and on about her grumbling tummy and lack of hydration while troupers Cat and Anique did all the heavy lifting. Why Cowboy Dave would pick this princess over her fellow Italian Alessia is almost impossible to comprehend, especially once we saw that, despite the carefree shrug Alessia managed during her elimination, her good-natured heart was breaking.

That Olinda sobbed and gurgled like a backed-up sump pump when Alessia got the boot suggests that not only did the Swedish moneygrubber have actual feelings, but that Alessia possessed a heart big enough to touch even a self-obsessed diva. Alessia was a little like the Roberto Begnini of ''The Next Joe Millionaire,'' and as long as she doesn't remake ''Pinocchio,'' we will always love her.

Speaking of Olinda, there may be an intervention in the offing, because I'm starting to think the Swede's so homesick for the cute blonds back home that she's developed Stockholm syndrome, given her recent turnaround on the show. While last week she was rolling her eyes at Cowboy Dave's down-home mannerisms, this week she's fixated on ripping off his shorts in the pool and nattering on about ''getting in there'' regarding the poor man's butt. I'm not sure what that means, but I fear it's painful, and Cowboy Dave better get a stronger belt buckle and keep his back to the wall.

But really, I'm feeling tremendously sorry for Cowboy Dave. The crush he's been nursing for Linda, the Czech model who looks like she tumbled out of a Noxema commercial, was just starting to blossom into something that (gasp!) smacked of honest-to-goodness love. Linda, quavering in Cowboy Dave's arms as they rode into the sunset astride a fine lookin' horse, admitted to being afraid of the intensity of her feelings for the dippy American dude. And Cowboy Dave's face got all melty whenever he looked at Linda, kind of like PePe LePew or Hugh Grant. It was enough to make you believe in romance, or at least the seductive powers of an $80 million inheritance and good abs.

So what does Linda do, having found the heady stuff of goopy Lifetime movies plopped in her lap? Beg to be released from the show, of course. Somehow, the seething jealousy of her housemates overpowered even the abs and the money, and towards the end of the show Linda, sitting teary eyed at the breakfast table, pleaded with her one true love to dump her sorry ass. It was hard not to feel for Cowboy Dave, who clearly had seldom heard such discouraging words. After all, if a fictional $80 million isn't enough to snag the girl of his dreams, what is? Certainly not those awful lavender rodeo chaps, I'll tell you that much.

I'm trying to muster some sympathy for Linda, whose inability to deal with ''stressful situations'' and her self-admitted weakness was just as heartbreaking as it was frustrating. But did she really think fighting tooth and nail with 13 other women for the affections of one man would be a big 7th-grade pajama party?

Some part of her seemed to believe that, once she pulled her cowboy hat from the ring, the other women would rally around her, patting her on the back for her selflessness. Instead, they reacted as if she had admitted to having a sexually transmitted disease or a prison tattoo on her head. Hopefully poor, sad Linda has learned a helpful life lesson: It's one thing to be the object of envy, but in the cutthroat world of reality TV, to give up with victory so close at hand is the only real indignity.

Originally posted Nov 04, 2003