Frank Micelotta/American Idol 2008/Getty
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February 21, 2008 12:00 AM

Before the first contestant took the stage on last night’s show, Ryan Seacrest made sure the audience knew that some of the women were battling forces beyond their control.

“They are fighting for it tonight,” he told the audience. “Even Idol’s aren’t immune to the flu. It’s one of the worst cold seasons in American history and it hit the best top 24 in Idol history.”

First up: Kristy Lee Cook, who performed “Rescue Me.” Unfortunately, she may have been singing to a doctor because, as she later admitted, she had a nasty case of bronchitis — and it showed.

The judges were not impressed with her “rough” and “robotic” performance. “That’s okay, though,” Paula Abdul said. “Being sick and being the first one — that’s a double whammy.”

Fast forward to the last contestant: Carly Smithson sang “The Shadow of Your Smile” and impressed Randy Jackson.

“I hear you have bronchitis, you have a cold,” he said, as Carly coughed. “Everybody’s sick, this is the worst flu in history. Guess what … you gave the best vocal of the last two days, the best vocal of the top 24!”

To that, Carly responded: “Sick is not an excuse.”

Or is it?

Tell us: Is having the flu, bronchitis or a cold an excuse for a lackluster performance? Should the judges — or the voting public — take that into consideration?

Frank Micelotta/American Idol 2008/Getty

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