B&S won over S&P even though it was in North America, due to having more judges in their favor, so I dont think the geography matters as much as the geographical look of the judging panel. Of course we won't know because of the anonymous judging panels.
I think what Joe is saying is that Irina seems to be forgiven by a lot of judges and receives high marks regardless of whether she actually skates well. It could be a case of them judging her practices. She has been helped along the way by the judges so far this season, even though she hasn't been winning, she has been placing higher than she probably deserved in some cases.
For years skaters have complained about being "out of favor" with their federations -- Maria in particular had no support for a long time, and that would include no judging support. The same could be said for Yags/PLushenko... first Plushenko is winning everything and then suddenly Yags seemed to get back into their good graces and viola.. he is winning over Plushenko (beginning at GPF's). It seems clear that unless somebody runs away with the gold, meaning nobody comes close to matching up to their skating, this one is going to be purely luck of the judging draw.