The Dixie Chicks, whose country career tanked after lead singer Natalie Maines, just before the start of the Iraq invasion, offered an apology to a London audience because George W. Bush was from their home state of Texas, have the best revenge: A new album that opened at No. 1 on the charts. 

From a press release issued by the group:

As Taking The Long Way debuts at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 best-selling albums chart this week, with first week’s sales of 525,829, the Dixie Chicks have become the first female group in chart history to have three albums debut at #1, breaking the record the Chicks established in 2002 when the group’s last studio album, Home, debuted at #1 and made them the first female group ever to have two albums debut at #1.

With the #1 debut of Taking The Long Way, the Dixie Chicks have also become the first female group in chart history to have three studio albums occupy the #1 slot on the Top 200.

Taking The Long Way has achieved one of the year’s Top 5 first week’s sales tallies and has the best first week’s sales for any female act on the Top 200 in 2006.

In addition to its chart-topping success in America, Taking The Long Way has just debuted at #2 in Australia.

Taking The Long Way arrives in the midst of an incredible media blitz surrounding the Dixie Chicks, who were honored with a profile on CBS’s "60 Minutes" and appeared on the cover of Time magazine an unprecedented two times in May. The group was featured in a five-part series of interviews, culminating with an SRO live concert at New York’s Bryant Park on Friday, May 26, on ABC’s "Good Morning America." The Dixie Chicks will sit down for an in-depth interview on "Larry King Live" tonight, Wednesday, May 31.

The popular success of Taking The Long Way is echoed in the praise the album is receiving from the press, which has been heralding the record in a flurry of four-star reviews. "Taking The Long Way embraces the depth and fury of classic rock while remaining true to the trio’s Texas roots," raved Rolling Stone while USA Today called the album "Incredibly impressive."

Entertainment Weekly gave the new Dixie Chicks album an "A" grade saying, "Fightin’ words and the music doesn’t back down either, on an album that finds the Dixie Chicks bolder than ever. With (Natalie) Maines projecting more passionately than ever, Taking The Long Way remains intimate and personal."

"This is an album that has something for everyone," said The New York Times, "old fans who thought the Dixie Chicks were at their finest in their fancy-free early days as well as recent admirers who are eager to see the band push beyond the confines of country."

Rolling Stone closed its review of the album with a nod to the new Dixie Chicks single, "If you’ve dismissed the Chicks or need a new reason to love them, the epic, howling longing of ‘Voice Inside My Head’ will blow away your expectations."

The record-breaking chart-topping success of Taking The Long Way is the latest in a long line of achievements for the Dixie Chicks. With 39 RIAA gold, platinum and multi-platinum certifications to their credit, the Dixie Chicks are the only female group to hold two RIAA Diamond Awards (each for sales of more than 10 million units).

A just reward for a group that told it like it is and paid the price for honesty.