Forget the Best Actor win odds of the moment, which probably still favor Sean Penn winning for Milk. Mickey Rourke‘s BAFTA win the other night awoke me to the late-blooming realization that his winning the Oscar for his Wrestler performance will deliver an emotional payoff like no other, and that’s what matters to most of us.

I’m guessing that others are thinking the same thing right now, and that this may prod those who haven’t yet voted (the ballot deadline being a little more than a week away) into voting for the guy. Despite all the political missteps he’s made since the campaign began last fall. Or possibly because of them, in a way. Because everyone is relating right now to hard times for obvious reasons, and Rourke, symbolically, is an emblem — the emblem — of error and faux pas and past political misjudgment, and people are sensing that what we all need in our lives is a little charity, a little kindness, a little bit of a helping hand to those who need it, even if they made their own bed and should’ve known better at the time.

Voting for Rourke allows people to feel extra-generous because he hasn’t quite played the game in the carefully orchestrated way that Russell Crowe, another bad boy, did when he campaigned for his work in Gladiator. And compassion and generosity in the face of economic terror, I sense, has become a stronger current out there than the safely liberal human-rights/remember the scourge of Prop 8/salute-a-noble-martyr message that voting for Gus Van Sant‘s Milk would be, Penn’s excellent performance notwithstanding.

Yes, Academy voters (most of whom have allegedly already voted) may have decided that Rourke has already benefitted tremendously from his Wrestler restoration and that’s enough. Maybe. But something tells me he might take it all the same. Because no other win would provide a stronger emotional meltdown on Oscar night.