March 01, 2008, 04:27 PM
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The intensity of anti-Mormon feeling displayed during the defeat of Mitt Romney must have come as a shock to Mormons. They put up the most competent-looking Presidential candidate, and he gets kicked around. In a very recent poll, 32% said they wouldn`t vote for a Mormon for President, compared to only 4% who wouldn`t vote for a black.

That must send a wake-up call to Mormons. For generations, they`ve assumed that because they have a weird religion, they will have to be the most normal of Americans. But now, being a normal American is considered weird.

It will be interesting to see how Mormons respond.

The next test of the strength of anti-Mormonism in the U.S. will come in the "American Idol" voting, because a 17-year-old Hispanic Mormon kid from Utah named David Archuleta appears to be more talented than anybody else. Here`s a video of his rendition of John Lennon`s "Imagine," in which he somehow turns the most hackneyed song in the world, the quasi-national anthem of Brussels Eurocrats, into a thing of beauty. The kid won "Star Search" at age 12 and appears to be a professional singer, so it`s kind of like a 17-year-old Stevie Wonder competing against a bunch of amateurs ("Hey, Little Stevie, weren`t you in all those Beach Party movies with Annette Funicello four years ago?" "Shhhhh.")

But the anti-Mormon Evangelical demographic makes up a big chunk of the phone-in voters on "American Idol," so it will be interesting to see if anybody can upset Archuleta.

By the way, it`s fun to compare Archuleta`s slight reworking of Lennon`s limited melody to contestant Jason Yeager`s attempt to make up his own melody for Henry Mancini`s exquisite "Moon River." Check out the video beginning 45 seconds in, when Yeager gets a proud smile on his face as he unleashes on humanity the new tune that he`s dreamed up for the line "Two drifters off to see the world."

Take that, Henry Mancini, I totally pwned you! Next, I`ll do a couple of songs I like to call "The Purple Panther" and "Baby Hippopotamus Walk."

Yeager looks like Val Kilmer doing an American Idol parody on Saturday Night Live.

Also, I didn`t find much on Archuleta`s ethnic background, but if I had to guess, I would bet he`s descended on his father`s side from settlers who entered what`s now the American Southwest under the King of Spain`s rule many centuries ago. There`s a county in Colorado named "Archuleta" down on the border with New Mexico, and most of the Archuletas in genealogical databases are from that general area.