One of Canada's deepest, darkest secrets, one of most embarrassing situations, has been exposed to North America.
No, this doesn't refer to the multi-million dollar sponsor-ship scandal currently raging in Ottawa, nor does it pertain to Don Cherry, our true national embarrassment who has, unfortunately, not been kept hidden from the rest of North America.
The most recent embarrassment to go continent-wide? Stompin' Tom Connors.
This is an old guy who can't sing, who brings out a piece of plywood and keeps time with his guitar-playin' by stompin' on the wood, singin' lyrics that don't rhymn, and rarely makin' sense.
He was Canada's little secret. We've had to treat him with kindness, but we didn't have to admit liking him or appreciating his music. Something like the crazy uncle who shows up at family reunions every year and proceeds to gross everybody out by spilling spaghetti all over his shirt and floor, swilling beer till he's slobbery drunk and then starts telling embarrassing stories with a lot of swear words.
For a couple of decades, at least, we kept our embarrassing Stompin' Tom hidden away.
Every now and then, Canada's musical powers would bring him to Toronto from Timmins, or whatever Northern Ontario town he claims to inhabit, for a Juno award show.
He was the musical awards show equivalent to the wild and wacky sports highlights you see weekly on TV.
While the real musical geniuses like Celine Dion, the Tragically Hip and Shania Twain would perform and win all the awards, they'd occasionally have Stompin' Tom sing a song or two for hilarious effect.
Luckily, only Canadians have ever been exposed to Stompin' Tom. Canadian content rules being what they are, if a guy's got a guitar and a song - a ryhmer or not - Canadian government rules demand he be allowed to sing at least once every five years at the Junos.
But no one outside the country had ever seen him, which is good. It's like wearing shades to cover a black eye.
You know it's there, but you don't want to force the ugliness on innocent bystanders.
That all ended a couple of weeks ago, when NBC late night talk show host Conan O'Brien, doing a week's worth of shows from Toronto - a beautiful city inhabited by a bunch of dolty Toronto Maple Leaf fans who don't mind showing off their complete and total idiocy on national TV - invited Stompin' Tom to perform.
Okay, who Told?
Whoever it was should have their RRSP contribution limit cut in half for the next five years, or be forced to wear an "I Love Chretien" button on their shirt for the next two months.
What's the big deal? The Conan O'Brien show is beamed primarily to the United States.
Americans tuning in all week heard Nickelback and the Barenaked Ladies and... Stompin' Tom. They may now think the Stomper is third best on our country's list of who's who in the world of music.
Canada's only saving grace, our only hope to avoid rural North American embarrassment, is that the show is shown in most markets at 12:35 a.m., so only half-awake American shift workers, part - or fully - drunk people getting home from bars or computer nerds taking a TV break from the internet would likely have watched Connors perform.
We can only hope they'd wake up in the morning and consider it only a bad dream.
Connors sang his signature song, Hockey Night, and got the wild response from the Leaf fans in the audience when he wrapped up the song by saying the Leafs had won the Cup.
If anybody outside of Canada is reading this, let me apologize on the behalf of the country. We won't let Stompin' Tom out in the public again. We promise.