I have never felt sorry for Mitt Romney, but these 90 seconds at his rally Thursday night in Ohio at least drew my sympathy. Country stars Big & Rich and Randy Owens did a concert for the crowd, and at the end, with Romney on stage, someone brought up Meat Loaf.

Here’s a guy who had one hit album in 1978, “Bat Out Of Hell,” which included the terrific “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” and a couple of other hits, selling more than 40 million copies. Since then, he’s managed to keep his career going without any other real successes — a fact verified by his appearance on the TV home of over-and-done performers, “Celebrity Apprentice.”

So, Thursday night, Meat Loaf gets to the microphone and gives Romney a rambling endorsement. I’ve written about how endorsements don’t mean anything, and I can’t see any undecided voter being swung in Romney’s direction by the guy who did “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad,” but we’re still not up to the embarrassing part. That came when Meat Loaf and the country guys started singing “America The Beautiful.” I don’t know whose idea it was, but it was a disaster.

When you sing any song in public, rule number one is Know The Lyrics. These guys don’t. At one point, they urge the rally-goers to sing along, probably because the crowd does know the words and can help out. Rule number two is Do A Respectful Version Of An American Standard. That’s the rule Roseanne Barr violated when she butchered the National Anthem in 1990 at a Padres game, and these guys do the same to “America The Beautiful.”

Then things really go off the rails when Meat Loaf hits some notes that don’t actually exist on the standard musical scale. Suffice it to say that if the judges on “America’s Got Talent” witnessed this, they’d hit the buzzer simultaneously at the 5-second mark.

Meanwhile, Romney is in the midst of all this awkwardness, the corporate guy-in-a-tie amidst extremely off-key singing by so-called professionals who may have consumed the kind of beverages that Mormon Romney has never imbibed. Ironically, back during the GOP primaries, Romney used to sing his own robotic and not very melodic version of “America The Beautiful” at campaign rallies. That was bad, but he was better than this.

If Romney is the CEO he says he is, the first thing he should have done Thursday night upon leaving the rally stage was fire whoever allowed this debacle to take place — just like he canned the person responsible for allowing Clint Eastwood do that Talk To An Empty Chair routine at the RNC.  Oh, wait.

Imagine the reaction from right-wing media if some singers had butchered “America The Beautiful” at a Barack Obama re-election rally, and the President had smiled through it and hugged everyone, as Romney did.  It would have been the outrage meme for the next 72 hours on Fox News, Drudge, and conservative talk radio — but when it happens a Romney rally, not one word.