Keith says he feels 'vindicated' by strong awards showing for hawkish anthem


Tuesday, April 8th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Country singer Toby Keith feels vindicated by the three video awards he won for his hawkish anthem ``Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American).''

``The night we had tonight vindicates me for the controversy from that song,'' said Keith, who won video of the year, cocky video and best male video for the song during Country Music Television's 2003 Flameworthy Video Music Awards on Monday.

The lyrics include the lines that warn terrorists: ``And you'll be sorry that you messed with/The U.S. of A./'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass/It's the American way.''

Last year Keith wanted to sing the song as the opening act on ABC's July 4 television special, but producers rejected it because the lyrics were too angry and he ended up not performing.

Keith, who was the host of the show along with actress Pamela Anderson, was the biggest winner at the fan-voted awards show.

``I dedicate this great award to Mr. Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks, and all the people over there (in Iraq) putting it down for us tonight,'' he said.

After the show, Keith said there is room for dissent and opposing views about the war in country music ``as long as we give every artist the right to paint his own picture.''

``I don't bang the war drum,'' he said. ``I just don't trust the next celebrity who thinks they know more about it than I do.''

The show aired live on Country Music Television from the Gaylord Entertainment Center. The show was CMT's second since last year's inaugural event.

About 3 million fans cast votes by Internet _ nearly a million more than last year. Voting was completed in all categories before the awards show, except for video of the year. Fans were allowed to vote for their favorites in that category during the program.

Patriotism was a recurring theme during the show. Darryl Worley performed his hit, ``Have You Forgotten.'' Singer Chris Cagle wished the troops ``Godspeed'' and a safe return home.

Comedian Brett Butler drew some boos when she mentioned the Dixie Chicks. Natalie Maines, lead singer for the group, attracted criticism last month when she reportedly told an audience in London, ``Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.''

The show included a tribute to Johnny Cash, hosted by Vince Gill, who was dressed in black in honor of singer known as ``The Man in Black.''

Cash was honored for his work on a video for a Nine Inch Nails song he recorded called ``Hurt.''

``I can't begin to tell you how cool it is for this whole new young generation to be going, 'Who is this guy?,''' Gill said.

Because of the video's release date, it was not eligible for an award.

Cash, who suffers from a disease of the nervous system that makes him susceptible to pneumonia, was released from a Nashville hospital last week and did not attend the show.

Wife June Carter Cash accepted the award on Cash's behalf.

Anderson and Kid Rock brought some rock 'n' roll swagger to the show.

Rock, seated next to Hank Williams Jr., took sips from what appeared to be a tiny whiskey bottle, while Anderson brought a man onstage clad in underwear and cowboy boots with ``Naked Cowboy'' written across his bottom.

``I love country music. I grew up with it,'' Anderson said after the show.

Rock and Sheryl Crow performed their duet, ``Picture,'' a surprise hit that landed Rock a male video of the year nomination.

The winners included:

_ Video of the Year: Toby Keith _ ``Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue.''

_ Group/Duo Video of the Year: Rascal Flatts - ``These Days.''

_ Female Video of the Year: Martina McBride - ``Concrete Angel.''

_ Male Video of the Year: Toby Keith - ``Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue.''

_ Breakthrough Video of the Year: Joe Nichols - ``Brokenheartsville.''

_ Fashion Plate Video of the Year: Tim McGraw - ``She's My Kind of Rain.''

_ Concept Video of the Year: Shania Twain - ``I'm Gonna Getcha Good!''

_ Hottest Female Video of the Year: Faith Hill - ``When the Lights Go Down.''

_ Hottest Male Video of the Year: Tim McGraw - ``She's My Kind of Rain.''

_ Cocky Video of the Year: Toby Keith - ``Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue.''

_ Video Director of the Year: Deaton Flanigen - Martina McBride - ``Concrete Angel.''