Tuesday's inaugural festivities were as close to a must-see civic event as our nation as seen in almost 30 years. At least until American Idol came along later Tuesday night.

Early ratings data indicate that coverage of Barack Obama's swearing-in was the most-watched inaugural broadcast since Ronald Reagan took his first presidential oath. Obama, alas, could not surmount the Gipper, who netted 37.4% of viewing households in 1981 compared to Obama's 29.2% on Tuesday, an indignity sure to be the administration's first underperformance highlighted by the Fox News Channel gang.

And why not: Its sister network buried the prime-time coverage with a 22 share for the latest round of American Idol auditions — not quite doubling NBC's "Neighborhood Ball: An Inauguration Celebration," but close enough. Glad to see all this godforsaken hope isn't yet perverting America's essential priorities.