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Oprah's Australian Walkabout Slips a Hefty Tax Bill on the Barbie

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Oprah Winfrey, host of the Oprah Winfrey Show, who is leaving to start the Oprah Winfrey Network, and the same woman who has shared the cover of her eponymous magazine with someone other than herself only twice (first in March 2009, with First Lady Michelle Obama, and second in December '09, with Mr. Ellen DeGeneres), has come up with a way to lavish even more attention on herself with another self-indulgent studio audience giveaway.

Yes, the founder of Harpo Productions, named after herself, naturally, head of Oprah Radio, and creator of, was apparently so taken with the delighted sycophantry she drummed up after the stunt she pulled by giving away a Pontiac G6 to each and every member of her studio audience (who didn't realize at the time that they would have to pay $7,000 to the IRS if they wanted to keep their cars), she's now taking each and every audience member from yesterday's show on an all-expense paid trip to Australia.

While it may appear to be a selfless act of generosity on the surface, the trip for 300, dubbed "Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure," is being sponsored by Chevrolet, Motorola, and Tourism Australia. (The aforementioned free Pontiacs were donated by Pontiac, in case you were wondering.)

"I started to think about where would I most want to go. Maybe I should take all of you with me to the other side of the world ... We're going to Australia! After all, this really is my 25th season,” Oprah told her shrieking, crying fans. “And this is really my last chance to do something really big.”

It was also an opportunity for Oprah to generate even more publicity for Oprah -- and a rather large bill for Australian taxpayers. According to Reuters, Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said the federal and state New South Wales governments would be spending more than $3 million helping to bring the show down under.

Former tourism minister John Brown asked the media not to be "cynical about the cost."

Sorry. Couldn't help it.
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