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Sochi Olympics put spotlight on Russia's flaws

Snowflakes transform into four Olympic rings with one

Snowflakes transform into four Olympic rings with one failing to form during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Fisht Olympic Stadium on Feb. 7, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett

And the gold medal for espionage goes to . . . definitely not the Russians. Today's dimwitted Sochi spies can't install a shower cam without soaking themselves!

Vladimir Putin has been working diligently to make his nation seem like a superpower again -- beefing up the Russian army, investing in high-tech espionage gear and reminding gay people who's still in charge. Securing the Winter Games for his beloved Black Sea resort was going to be the Olympic achievement of Putin's bring-back-the-glory campaign.

Ah, maybe nyet!

The athletes are wonderful, of course. They always are. Whatever stupidity or worse surrounds them, they find fresh ways to soar.

But the early Sochi tally so far reads like this: Warnings of "black widow" Chechen terrorists. Threats of airborne toothpaste bombs. Mismanagement and exorbitant cost overruns.

Stray-dog street-corner roundups. Full-press laptop hack-a-thons. Rooms without running water and hotel toilet seats installed upside down.

Oh, and more pictures of Putin with his shirt on -- for now.

The Olympics often present a golden opportunity to highlight the host country's culture and traditions. Sochi is no exception. Only this time, the spotlight has fallen harshly on all the worst things about modern Russia. And no vaunted Ring of Steel can keep the world's prying eyes away.

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THE NEWS IN SONG: So let's raise the bar and our cups to the stars: Real Russian police cover Daft Punk's "Get Lucky,"

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