Bristol Palin, Mark Ballas Bristol Palin, Mark Ballas

There was anger, outrage and sadness in the Dancing With the Stars ballroom Tuesday night. Brandy, who did such a magnificent job this season, was told she would be going home, knocked down by the seemingly unstoppable force that is Bristol Palin

Whether it's the wide reach of her mother, Sarah Palin, the influence of the Tea Party, or Bristol's appeal as the only "ordinary" (and therefore relatable) person in the competition, it doesn't seem to matter that she comes in dead last on the leader board. Viewers' votes, week after week, have allowed her to leap-frog over Audrina Patridge, Rick Fox, Kurt Warner and now, Brandy, and put her into next week's finals. 

For her part, Palin is proud and unapologetic. "I'm the most improved dancer, without a doubt," she says, "and I deserve to be here.  Nobody's worked harder than we have."

"I think out of everyone, we've earned it the most," says her pro partner, Mark Ballas. "We were rehearsing at 6:45 Monday morning, and we were there until 8:45 Sunday night. We started rehearsing on Mondays three weeks ago, just to give it a little extra push, and it's paying off." Says Palin, "I don't think anyone in the history of Dancing With the Stars has gone in on a Monday morning before a show and practiced for three hours." 

As for Brandy, the tears streamed down her face. But after surviving a series of personal and professional setbacks over the past few years, including dwindling record sales and a horrific traffic accident, participating in the show did wonders for her self-esteem. "I have tapped back into my power and my confidence," she says. "I finally feel like I'm believing in myself. To get out here and do something that I've never really been comfortable with? It makes me think that I can do things. And for a long time, that was a blur for me. I can go home now, feeling like I'm reborn."

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