OUR NOT-SO-LONG national nightmare is over: Miss California, Carrie Prejean, can keep her title.

Donald Trump descended from a skyscraper yesterday to make his ruling. We still think he should have named Carrie the "Celebrity Apprentice" and Joan Rivers Miss California, but what can you do.

It's been a busy week for Trump but once again he used his Solomonic wisdom to do what he does best - get publicity for Donald Trump and properties owned by Donald Trump.

Really, were there a dozen people in America who actually cared about the Miss USA pageant? Are there a half-dozen who can recall who won?

In allowing Carrie to retain her crown and simultaneously saying he would love to have Perez Hilton back as a judge, Trump has appealed to both sides in the gay-marriage divide.

"We've reviewed the pictures carefully," Trump said at a packed news conference at Trump Plaza in Manhattan. "We've made a determination that the pictures taken were acceptable. Some were risque, but we are in the 21st century."

We're still having beauty pageants, dude. We're fighting over gay marriage. We're at war with fanatics who stone women for going to school. Are we really in the 21st century?

"It's the same answer the president of the United States gave," Trump said of Carrie's response to Perez's gay-marriage query. "It's the same answer many people gave. She gave an honorable answer. She gave an answer from her heart, and I think for that she has to be commended."

We're with you, Donald. We have said repeatedly during this ridiculous controversy that Carrie is absolutely entitled to the opinion she stated. It's a beauty contest, for pete's (or Trump's) sake. Carrie was catwalking in high heels, not running for office. She was wearing a sash, not a judge's robe.

Sure we think her higher authority might frown on the nudie shots and the fake boobs, but that's just us - and we frown on neither.

So we were 100 percent with The Donald's decision and with Carrie retaining her title and her important runner-up status should anything happen to whoever actually won.

But then Carrie had to open her mouth.

"On April 19 on that stage I exercised my freedom of speech, and I was punished for doing so," said Prejean, who described Perez's question as "politically charged" with a "hidden personal agenda."

"This should not happen in America."

Take a breath, dear. Perez's question was only "politically charged" because you gave him an answer he didn't want to hear and he made an issue of it. If you want your answer to be respected as coming from your heart, then his question should be respected for coming from his heart.

His "hidden personal agenda"? What's "hidden" about it? He's an out gay man who writes a snarky gossip blog. He believes he should have the right to marry a man. You don't. You both have a "personal agenda" and neither one is hidden.

As for the line "This should not happen in America," to what do you refer? Judges shouldn't ask "politically charged" questions of pageant babes (that's playing into a stereotype) or people shouldn't have "hidden personal agendas" even if they're not hidden?

To review: A real-estate tycoon with an ego the size of the Taj Mahal (the real one, not his), owns a beauty pageant. You, a nice girl from San Diego, appear in it hoping to win fame and fortune. One of the judges is an Internet gossip queen famous for doodling over paparazzi photos.

He asks you a question to expose a viewpoint with which he disagrees. To your credit, you answer his question honestly.

Shazam! One month ago, no one knew you; now you're being investigated by TMZ.com, appearing on national talk shows, being mentioned as a future political candidate and between 20 and 30 percent of the country loves you - and the handful of people who don't love you will soon forget about you.

More modeling jobs and paid speeches than you ever could have imagined will soon come your way and surely a book deal is in the works. It also won't surprise anyone if you score a role on next year's edition of "Celebrity Apprentice." One Trump beast, you see, must feed another.

Yes, you had a few weeks of uncomfortable publicity, Carrie Prejean, but you came out the other end of the rabbit hole. You're set.

And you didn't even win.

Maybe you're right. Maybe "This should not happen in America," but it could only happen in America.


* In other non-news, reality-TV star

Kate Gosselin is now being forced to respond to rumors that she's cheating on her husband with a family bodyguard. (Last week, husband Jon Gosselin denied reports of an affair with a 23-year-old teacher.)

"The next story coming out from the animals that stalk us is about our security person and his family," she said, referring to bodyguard Steve Neild. "Already the allegations they're making about me are disgusting, unthinkable, unfathomable, and I am horrified."

Gee, Kate, a little harsh? We kind of feel bad for Neild. Married or not, no man wants to think that having an affair with him would be "disgusting, unthinkable, unfathomable."

The new season of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" starts May 25 - it's sure to be the most-watched one yet.

* The Hollywood Reporter says New

Line, the studio that brought you the all-star cast of "He's Just Not That Into You," is taking that concept to the next level with "Valentine's Day."

Garry Marshall is set to direct a cast that could include Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, Shirley MacLaine, Bradley Cooper and Ashton Kutcher.

If only the movie had a few more attractive leads.

How silly a chick flick is this expected to be? Biel is negotiating to play an unlucky-in-love publicist who doesn't have a date on Valentine's Day.

Oh, boo-bleepin'-hoo! *

Daily News wire services contributed to this report.

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