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Heidi and Spencer Pratt’s Plasticine presence, which seems to have been delivered via wormhole from a strange land where people are shrink-wrapped in vacuous packages ready-made for reality TV, is the exact product that’s appeared on “The Hills,” countless magazine covers and most recently, NBC’s “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!” (Msnbc.com is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

So why do we care?

We care because they are America right now.

The common denominator between those who claim to loathe and the few who admit to liking the couple is the idea that the couple represents the American dream. Or at least the current, common iteration of it, where the goals are to grow up, be beautiful, have money and be famous.

That notion and the degree to which some hold it dear might be everything that’s not right with our country and culture, but it’s also a dream that’s been documented and aspired to by people long before the Pratts began to torture our sensibilities one publicity stunt at a time. It’s a frame of reference that bridges the gap between the Pratts in a Costa Rican jungle, and you spending another night in front a the TV.

The fact that Spencer can induce synaptic seasickness with alarming brevity adds texture to their act (though they say it is not one), and is exactly what engages us just when we’re ready to run in the opposite direction.

Case in point: During Spencer’s June 16 interview with Larry King, he described Al Roker as “an elderly man” who thought he could “parade my 22-year-old wife on television.”

Really, Spencer? Don’t you even know the meaning of the word “elderly”? And is that your best defense against an interviewer who asked questions that were not publicist approved and better yet, were actually relevant?

Spencer often appears to be the one charting the pair’s collective course of celebrity, but Heidi is complicit, too. How better to remain relevant than to appear in Playboy, one of the hallmarks of the American notion of free speech?

“It’s an amazing magazine, very iconic,” Heidi told Us Weekly just hours after her encounter with Roker on June 15. “You have to be a sex symbol, like Marilyn Monroe, to be considered!”

And with that, Heidi, and by the transitive property, Spencer (who will surely have some issue with how Playboy decides to parade his 22-year-old wife onto the pages of the magazine) live to see another news cycle.

That their success grows in direct proportion to what looks like nothing more than laziness and chicanery is bad enough. The fact that they play by the rules they seemingly wrote and we get sucked in only makes it worse. The only thing left to do is observe and hope that their American dream is one that we can all wake up from.