In a stunning upset that could prove to be just what Fox's "American Idol" needs, David Cook, 25, of Blue Springs, Mo., last night became the show's seventh winner after viewers overruled the judges by the kind of margin - 12 million votes - that presidential candidates dream of.
Conspiracy theorists, of course, could say that this is what "Idol" 's producers had wanted all along and that it was only the hope of energizing Cook's supporters that had led the three judges to all but hand the "Idol" victory to 17-year-old David Archuleta after Tuesday night's final round.
Though Cook, who Tuesday had caught flak for refusing to play the usual "Idol" game and repeat a crowd favorite, seemed to be taking the lead in many of the evening's performances, the first real sign that something might be amiss in Team Archuleta's world came in the final minutes of last night's show.
Judge Simon Cowell actually apologized to Cook, telling him that after reviewing a recording of the previous night's performances, the difference between the two wasn't as "clear-cut" as he'd first indicated.
But by the time Cook performed this year's winning song, "Time of Your Life" - thankfully, not the worst "Idol" ditty ever - some viewers might have forgotten what they'd come for.
The packed, intermittently entertaining two-hour finale included lengthy plugs for everything from the "Idol" finalists' summer tour to Mike Myers' latest movie, "The Love Guru," which had Myers posing as one of the show's "mentors" before disappearing in a cloud of smoke.
ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel did a few minutes of standup, for no immediately apparent reason. Charity was the explanation for a video in which Jack Black, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. performed with Gladys Knight as Pip wannabes.
Stopping by to perform with finalists: Donna Summer, Bryan Adams, ZZ Top, Graham Nash, the Jonas Brothers, One Republic, Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks (apparently recovered from the vocal injury that sidelined her last month), Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood, George Michael and Renaldo Lapuz, this year's answer to William Hung, got to turn his terrifyingly catchy song "I Am Your Brother," into a major production number. *