The Palin Papers

Was Alaska Governor Sarah Palin really plucked from “relative obscurity” to run on John McCain’s ticket? Should a politician whom Matt Damon has never heard of be allowed on a national ticket? (Hey, Matt, when did you first hear of Barack Obama? A convention speech?) Is she really lying about the Bridge to Nowhere and her maverick credentials?

I took a spin through the ProQuest database of America’s newspapers and found, in fact, that the coverage of Sarah Palin in real time gibes perfectly with the image she and her allies are presenting. Take an objective journey with me and decide for yourself.

I’ll start with the Chicago dailies just to satisfy local curiosity and then move to the national press and wire services. This collection represents virtually every article returned in my search; I have omitted nothing of consequence or anything that would present a different view.


Sarah Palin in the Chicago Tribune

1. HEADLINE: Governor cancels ‘bridge to nowhere’
DATE: Sept. 22, 2007
EXCERPT: “Gov. Sarah Palin ordered state transportation officials Friday to abandon the “bridge to nowhere” project that became a nationwide symbol of federal pork-barrel spending.”

2. HEADLINE: Here’s the buzz: Sites help you keep up with trends (about google trends)
DATE: Oct. 19, 2007
EXCERPT: You can use buzz trackers to find out what’s making news, a sort of meta version of a news site’s “most e-mailed” list. Why, you may ask, is a “Sarah Palin” showing up on one list? A few clicks and, aha, she’s the get-tough (and photogenic!) Alaska governor getting the national-media spotlight right now.

3. HEADLINE: Alaska governor generates VP buzz
DATE: March 14, 2008
EXCERPT: Gov. Sarah Palin will be the first to admit that it might be a stretch for a hockey mom from Alaska to be considered for the No. 2 spot on Sen. John McCain’s presidential ticket.

But there’s an undeniable national buzz surrounding the first-term governor, seen by many Republicans as a fresh, new face to represent the party’s future.

Palin says she has not spoken to McCain about the prospect. But it came up when she was in Washington two weeks ago for a National Governors Association meeting. She rubbed elbows with others cited as vice-presidential possibilities: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat.

“We all had a meeting with President Bush and he said, ‘Look at all these vice presidents sitting here,'” Palin said.

As for her recent news that she is pregnant with her fifth child, Palin said: “I’m very confident that a pregnant woman should not and doesn’t have to be prohibited from doing anything, including running for vice president.”

4. HEADLINE: THE CHECKLIST; Picking running mate, raising money on presidential candidates’ to-do lists
DATE: June 9, 2008
EXCERPT: McCain is likely to look at Republican Govs. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Charlie Crist of Florida, two battleground states. Other possibilities include former Massachusetts governor and presidential rival Mitt Romney; Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman; South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford; Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; and former congressman and White House budget director Rob Portman of Ohio, another key state.

Sarah Palin in the Chicago Sun-Times

1. HEADLINE: Zoo urges Bush to save polar bears – ‘Threatened’ designation sought
DATE: Nov. 15, 2007
EXCERPT: Some say that putting the bears under the Endangered Species Act would be premature. “The listing of a currently healthy species based entirely on highly speculative and uncertain climate and ice [forecasts] . . . would be unprecedented,” Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wrote in a letter to the Interior Department.

DATE: May 22, 2008
EXCERPT: The state of Alaska will sue to challenge the recent listing of polar bears as a threatened species, Gov. Sarah Palin said. She fears a listing will cripple oil and gas development in prime polar bear habitat.

3. HEADLINE: Look who’s not talking now – Minn. governor says a lot in Chicago, but not about V.P. rumors
DATE: July 31, 2008
EXCERPT: Former McCain primary rival Mitt Romney, 37-year-old Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are also rumored to be under consideration.

Sarah Palin’s national press over the years

1. HEADLINE: Sound of Silence
PUBLICATION: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
DATE: Sept. 20, 2001:
EXCERPT: The annual Potato Bowl, a football game pitting the rival Palmer and Wasilla high school football teams, went on as scheduled Sept. 14 at Wasilla’s Veterans Memorial Field. More than 2,000 fans from both communities joined together to try and put behind them, for a few hours at least, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

2. HEADLINE: Challenges Expected for Alaska Senator
PUBLICATION: The New York Times
DATE: June 4, 2003
EXCERPT: Nationally, Democrats are already focusing their attention on Alaska because they see it as one of their two best chances to pick up a Republican Senate seat (Illinois is the other) in 2004. But before Ms. Murkowski can set about holding off Mr. Knowles, she has to get past a likely Republican primary next September. Although she told a news conference here last week that she was not aware of any challengers, at least three prominent Republicans say they are thinking about running. They are Mr. Hood, Johne Binkley, who runs a Fairbanks riverboat company, and Sarah Palin, the former mayor of Wasilla, whom Mr. Murkowski appointed to the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a $118,000-a-year position.

3. HEADLINE: Alaska Governor Battles a Shifting Tide: Despite Strong Political Past, Murkowski Slips to Third in the Polls Heading Into Tuesday’s GOP Gubernatorial Primary
PUBLICATION: The Washington Post
DATE: Aug. 21, 2006
EXCERPT: Despite the power of incumbency, Murkowski has struggled to raise money and has trailed former Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin and former state senator John Binkley in the battle for the Republican nomination.

Palin has positioned herself as the change candidate. Jean Craciun, an independent pollster, said Palin is drawing support from moderate and independent voters.

4. HEADLINE: Alaska governor’s defeat latest sign of surly electorate ; Several incumbents are in tight races
DATE: Aug. 24, 2006
EXCERPT: The voters’ message in Alaska was “spare us the petty, personal nitpicking that I think people all across America are sick and tired of,” Palin said in an interview. She said she won the race despite being outspent nearly 4-to-1 because she presented “a new vision” and defied political orthodoxy, including her own party’s. “I didn’t solicit any special interest money,” she said.

5. HEADLINE: (News brief)
PUBLICATION: The New York Times
DATE: Aug 24, 2006
EXCERPT: Sarah Palin, 42, a former mayor of the little town of Wasilla who rose to prominence as a whistle-blower uncovering ethical misconduct in state government, won the nomination for governor with 51 percent of the vote.

6. HEADLINE: Business, oil execs support Democrat
PUBLICATION: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
DATE: Oct. 28, 1996
EXCERPT: Normally stalwart Republican backers in Alaska are shunning GOP gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin and defecting to Democrat Tony Knowles in this year’s race, with business and oil industry executives leading the way.

Executives from the state’s largest companies were among Knowles’ top individual donors in his last campaign finance report. Curtis Thayer, Enstar Natural Gas’ director of government affairs and a longtime Republican insider, even co-hosted a fundraiser for Knowles, a former governor.

7. HEADLINE: Novice Stands Her Ground On Veterans’ Turf in Alaska
PUBLICATION: The New York Times
DATE: Oct. 29, 2006
EXCERPT: Voters have not elected a woman as governor of Alaska in 47 years of statehood, and just a few months ago, before she trounced Gov. Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary, Sarah Palin was hardly known outside this growing suburb of Anchorage.

Now Ms. Palin, 42, has a sizable lead in most polls over Tony Knowles, a former Democratic governor who has survived in a conservative state by working closely with the powerful oil industry and cultivating ties across party lines.

Her secret?

”She’s a suburban mom,” said Dan Newman, the pastor of Wasilla Christian Fellowship, one of several evangelical churches here, and a Palin supporter. ”It’s almost the opposite of what you’d expect from Alaska.”

Ms. Palin, the former mayor of Wasilla, stands out in a state that has seen few fresh faces in politics. She is untainted by government scandal and unburdened by political debt. She is a conservative Christian who opposes abortion. She runs marathons. She fishes. She hunts.


Ms. Palin is portraying herself as a needed outside agent of change at a time when the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating links between Republican leaders in the Legislature and a major player in the oil industry.


Ms. Palin’s rise to prominence has come in part by turning the spotlight on the failings of her party. She accused one of her fellow members of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission of misusing his office to do political work.

Some of the accusations proved true, but Ms. Palin was striking close to home. The person she accused was Randy Ruedrich, the chairman of the state Republican Party.

Mr. Ruedrich, who says he and the party are actively supporting Ms. Palin in the election, has refused her suggestion that he should resign.

8. HEADLINE: Competition my grow around pipeline
DATE: Nov. 9, 2006
EXCERPT: Sarah Palin, who routed Gov. Frank Murkowski in the Republican primaries, was expected to find a stiff competitor in Democrat Tony Knowles. But by early September, she found herself leading the two- term ex-governor by a double-digit margin.

The mother of four touted her record of reducing taxes and increasing public services during her two terms as mayor of Wasilla. She promised to continue to keep taxes low by scrapping “frivolous spending” and striving toward “government efficiency.”

Palin, 42, also vowed not to touch Alaska’s Permanent Fund, the state’s trust endowed by revenue from its natural resources.

Palin said her tenure as chair of Alaska’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and experience working on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission made her ideal to oversee development of Alaska’s natural gas pipeline. She promised to negotiate for Alaska’s best interest outside of the Stranded Gas Development Act, under which the previous administration negotiated with the “Big Three” producers (ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP).

Competition in proposals for the gas pipeline “is simply business. This is conservative free market capitalism. . . . It may well be that the Big Three have the best proposal. Let’s find out,” she said.

She also promised to “put Alaskans first” when it comes to integrity in government: “I believe in fairness and inclusion.”

9. HEADLINE: (News brief)
PUBLICATION: The Washhington Post
DATE: Nov. 9, 2006
EXCERPT: Having clobbered unpopular incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski in a summer primary, Sarah Palin (R) won the Alaska governor’s race by defeating the best-known Democratic politician in the state, former governor Tony Knowles.

Palin, 42, former mayor of the booming town of Wasilla, presented herself as an outsider Republican, challenging what she called a cozy relationship between the “old guard” of both political parties and Alaska’s powerful energy industry.

10. HEADLINE: Alaskan move may put pipeline project at risk / Exxon Mobil responds to state’s tougher tactics on natural gas field
PUBLICATION: Houston Chronicle
DATE: Nov. 29, 2006
EXCERPT: Alaska’s decision shows a firming in the government’s stance to spur building of the long-delayed line, said Jerry McBeath, chairman of the political science department at University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“Clearly, the state’s very friendly posture towards the oil industry didn’t encourage the producers to move the gas forward to production,” McBeath said. “A continuation of that strategy just didn’t seem workable. A different strategy, a tougher line, has its problems but also its prospects.”

11. HEADLINE: Anticorruption whistle-blower takes Alaska’s top job; The state’s first female governor, sworn in Monday, promised to keep Big Oil from exploiting Alaskan resources
PUBLICATION: The Christian Science Monitor
DATE: Dec 6, 2006
EXCERPT: Sarah Palin has toppled two giants.

The former mayor of Wasilla, a rapidly growing bedroom burg north of Anchorage, crushed Gov. Frank Murkowski in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Then in the general election she defeated former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles, a political veteran who was seeking a return to the office he held for two terms.

Monday at her swearing-in in Fairbanks, she simultaneously became Alaska’s first female governor, Alaska’s youngest governor, and the state’s only beauty-queen-turned-chief-executive.

Not bad for a suburban mother of four with a relatively thin resume that critics claimed marked her as a lightweight. Not only that, she won during an election in which Republicans in general lost big, including at governors’ mansions. The party dropped six states, leaving Republicans in control of just 22 governor’s seats. Governor Palin is one of three female Republicans to be running a state.

Her victory stems partly from the fact that her campaign bore little connection to the rest of the US. “It was a revolt within the Republican Party against the leadership of the party and the sitting governor,” says Gerald McBeath, a political scientist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.


High on her priority list is a plan to take a tougher line with the oil industry, which she says has been “making mind-boggling profits” from Alaska’s resources.

“The oil companies, the executives, are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do. You take as much as possible and leave as little as possible behind,” she says. The governor needs to ensure that the citizens get as much benefit as possible, “which includes more than just looking out for the bottom line.”

Also a top priority, she says, is restoring a sense of ethics to a state where citizens are weary of government scandals.


Although she campaigned for Murkowski in 2002, she became his consistent critic after he was elected. She was outspoken about the financial deal he negotiated with the three major oil producers for a $20 billion natural-gas pipeline. She and others derided the deal – never ratified by the legislature – as a giveaway to the oil industry.

Palin has paid a price for her outspokenness. Mr. Ruedrich, still party chairman, seldom talks to her, and the state party gave her no money during the general election.

During the campaign, opponents criticized her for being vague on the issues, and one even took a jab at her intelligence. “I don’t hear an answer to my question, so I’m going to repeat it to you, and I’ll say it slower,” independent Andrew Halcro told her during one debate.

Palin says she has faced the “lightweight” charge before. She was greeted with similar skepticism when, at 32, she was elected mayor of Wasilla. During her tenure, she sometimes worked with an infant daughter asleep under her desk in a car seat.

But voters this year welcomed her outsider status as a former “hockey mom” who spent part of each summer working as a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay.

12. HEADLINE: (News brief)
PUBLICATION: The Los Angeles Times
DATE: Dec. 13, 2006
EXCERPT: The state jet will soon have a “for sale” sign on it. Gov. Sarah Palin announced in Anchorage that the Westwind II aircraft would be offered on EBay.

13. HEADLINE: Governor To Sell State Jet On eBay
PUBLICATION: Hearst Newspapers
DATE: Dec. 14, 2006
EXCERPT: With an eBay account and about $2.5 million, you, too, can fly in the state jet that cost former Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski so much political pain in his failed re-election campaign.

New Gov. Sarah Palin announced this week that she plans to sell the Westwind II online to the highest bidder.

14. HEADLINE: It Cost Alaska $2.7 Million; Now Then, What’s Your Bid?
PUBLICATION: The New York Times
DATE: Dec. 14, 2006
EXCERPT: It was not the sharp Alaskan winds or the dicey takeoffs among the fjords of Juneau that finally grounded the Westwind II jet used by Frank H. Murkowski as governor. It was the weight of all that political baggage.

Barely a week after taking office, Gov. Sarah Palin, a Republican who trounced Mr. Murkowski in an August primary and went on to win the general election in a landslide, says she is following through on one of her campaign promises: She is getting rid of the jet, which Mr. Murkowski, provoking a public backlash, bought against the wishes of the Legislature.

15. HEADLINE: Pelosi leads wave of women making political history; New House leader sees cracks in ‘marble ceiling’
DATE: Jan 4, 2007
EXCERPT: Even Republicans celebrate Pelosi’s promotion, which puts her second in line to succeed the president. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, calls it “phenomenal.” And Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says she’s “tickled pink” even though she said that she and Pelosi are “probably miles apart in terms of political issues.”

16. HEADLINE: Alaska’s new-style governor already shaking things up; Sarah Palin refers to her husband, Todd, as Alaska’s “First Dude.”
DATE: Jan 4, 2007
EXCERPT: Palin became Alaska’s first female governor – and its youngest – last month. The 42-year-old is in the generation of women that benefited from battles fought by their elders. She cites the impact of Title IX, the federal law that guarantees women equal opportunities in education, including school sports. “Everything I need to know, I learned on the basketball court,” Palin says.

Still, she says, she encountered prejudice on the campaign trail. “I have to bite my tongue when people ask, ‘How do you think you’re going to be governor with four kids?'” she says.

17. HEADLINE: With New Pipeline Plan, Alaska’s Governor Enters Precarious Territory
PUBLICATION: The New York Times
DATE: Feb. 19, 2007
EXCERPT: Now, two months after taking office, Ms. Palin wants to become the first Alaska governor to deliver what many others have sought without success: construction of a $30 billion pipeline to transport natural gas from the state’s North Slope to markets in the lower 48 states.

It is an enormous project that could strengthen Alaska’s energy-based economy for decades to come, while also, according to some estimates, supplying 7 percent of the nation’s natural gas annually.

But pulling off this first is shaping up to be more complicated.

Elected by a wide margin after promising to bring ”new energy” and ”transparency” to the pipeline project, Ms. Palin took office in December and immediately backed away from the negotiations that her predecessor, Frank H. Murkowski, had been pursuing with the three major energy companies that control much of the land where gas would be developed.

Ms. Palin has long criticized those negotiations as back-room dealings whose extensive incentives and tax breaks would have benefited the energy companies, BP, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, far more than they would have Alaska.


So next month, Ms. Palin intends to introduce the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, a bill that would open the bidding to new players, as well as the old ones. She says her plan would ensure new jobs and access to gas for state residents. She also says that whoever gets to control the pipeline must allow for its potential expansion so that other gas developers can use it at reasonable prices, thus encouraging more development.

The new plan, however, would delay a formal agreement until next year at the earliest, and it would be another decade, until 2018, before the pipeline was in operation.


But next week, when she attends a National Governors Association meeting in Washington, she plans to visit Alaska’s Congressional delegation and meet with officials at Exxon Mobil and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, among others. Besides putting minds at ease, she said, she wants to broaden the appeal of the project with the goal of gaining leverage in negotiations.

”This project is so much bigger than Alaska and Alaska’s interests,” Ms. Palin said. ”This is for the nation. This is to supply domestically safe sources of fuel. We’re going to be able to do that. We should be leading in a national energy plan.”

18. HEADLINE: Majors unethused about pipeline
DATE: May 4, 2007
EXCERPT: Major energy companies are declining to participate in building a natural gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope, saying legislation meant to lure them makes too many demands and offers too few assurances.

Officials of Exxon Mobil and Houston-based ConocoPhillips this week told state lawmakers the Alaska Gasoline Inducement Act will not generate competitive bids to build a pipeline.

Under the act, producers and independent pipeline companies can vie for the right to build a pipeline that lawmakers hope will ship trillions of cubic feet of natural gas to market.

The act requires that companies bidding to build the pipeline propose a route, construction timetable and deadline for getting commitments to ship gas in the line, all as part of their license application. Incomplete proposals could be rejected by Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration.

19. HEADLINE: `First dude’ probably doesn’t host many teas; Todd Palin, husband of Alaska’s governor, is a former oil-field worker and a snowmobile champ – for starters
PUBLICATION: The Los Angeles Times
DATE: May 6, 2007
EXCERPT: It was mid-February and Todd Palin, Alaska’s first gentleman, was speeding across 2,000 miles of ice and snowy tundra en route to victory in the world’s most grueling snowmobile race.

That same week, his wife, Republican Gov. Sarah Palin, was in Juneau requesting more money for the state budget and assuring legislators they’d soon see her plan for a natural gas pipeline that could one day be the most expensive construction project in North America. Then she flew to Fairbanks to wave her exhausted husband across the finish line.

It’s not just his title as the state’s reigning snowmobile co- champion that sets Todd Palin, 42, apart from the nation’s other first spouses. And it’s not that he’s one of just five who are men.

White-collar jobs in law, education or healthcare are typical among the current crop of first spouses, but Palin spent nearly 20 years as a blue-collar employee in the Arctic oil fields of the North Slope. And every summer he heads west to his birthplace in Dillingham to work the Bristol Bay commercial salmon fishery from his property on the Nushagak River.

A lifetime of manual labor in the state’s two largest and most physically demanding industries is helping Palin carve out his role as Alaska’s first spouse, or “first dude,” a nickname he has in common with the Kansas governor’s husband, Gary Sebelius.


At home, Palin takes care of the cooking, the bills and other domestic paperwork, in addition to driving the kids to extracurricular activities like basketball and soccer, according to his wife. He divides much of his time between Wasilla, where Track is recovering from shoulder surgery, and the capital in Juneau, where the Palin girls are in school.

“He can go on just an hour or two of sleep a night. He says, ‘I can sleep when I die,’ ” said Sarah Palin. “There is no way I could have done this job without his tremendous contributions to the home life. He’s able to keep it organized, like a well-oiled machine.”

20. HEADLINE: Alaska gas pipeline path approved
PUBLICATION: Houston Chronicle
DATE: May 12, 2007
EXCERPT: Both houses of the Alaska Legislature on Friday approved a bill establishing a path for a multibillion- dollar natural gas project designed to tap a huge heating fuel supply and transport it to the rest of the country.

The Alaska Gasline Inducement Act will now go to the Senate Finance Committee to work out differences in versions passed by the Senate and House.

Under the act, producers and independent pipeline companies can vie for rights to build the pipeline that lawmakers hope will ship trillions of cubic feet of North Slope natural gas.

The bill is designed to stimulate competition through inducements, but also has requirements that BP, Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips opposed.

The three major oil companies had warned they would not submit a bid unless such stringent requirements were removed.

Newly elected Republican Gov. Sarah Palin held firm, saying this week if lawmakers watered down her bill, she’d veto it.

21. HEADLINE: Governors OK with GOP’s lack of favorite
PUBLICATION: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
DATE: July 24, 2007
EXCERPT: Republican governors say it’s too soon to worry about the absence of a clear favorite for the GOP presidential nomination.
“A lot of us are sitting back and waiting to see if there will be new players in there,” Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said. “That’s probably why that box that says ‘none of the above’ is so popular right now.”

22. HEADLINE: Briefing book (news and notes)
PUBLICATION: New Orleans Times-Picayune
DATE: Aug 26, 2007
EXCERPT: Actress Jessica Simpson, fashion designer Vera Wang and TV host Oprah Winfrey were among the heady company shared by Gov. Kathleen Blanco on the pages of Self magazine’s recent edition, which published its list of “most inspiring women.” The list is a combination of nine women who are nearly all household names and the nine women governors in the United States. Blanco didn’t exactly get equal billing with the stars, who include comedienne Ellen DeGeneres, singer Sheryl Crow, and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton. The likes of poet Maya Angelou, actress Sandra Bullock and athlete Aimee Mullins got feature photos and exclusive write-ups. Blanco got a mention. Even among the women governors, the magazine focused on Alaska’s Sarah Palin and Kansas’ Kathleen Sebelius, who “so impressed voters with her support of education and public safety while slashing $1 billion in government waste.”

23. HEADLINE: Probe May Alter Face of Alaskan Politics; Some of the State’s Most Dominant Figures Under Scrutiny in Corruption Investigation
PUBLICATION: The Washington Post
DATE: Aug. 26, 2007
EXCERPT: The wide-ranging public-corruption investigation, which started with bribery allegations in the Juneau statehouse, could reshape politics in the state.

“Our state needs to grow up and clean up,” Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said recently. “We need to prove to the rest of the nation that our government is as clean as our environment and . . . that we can do it right.”

24. HEADLINE: Alaska Governor Cancels ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ Project
PUBLICATION: The Washington Post (also in The New York Times)
DATE: Sept. 22, 2007
EXCERPT: Gov. Sarah Palin (R) ordered state transportation officials to abandon the “bridge to nowhere” project that became a nationwide symbol of federal pork-barrel spending.

25. HEADLINE: Alaska Seeks Alternative to Bridge Plan
PUBLICATION: AP story in The New York Times
DATE: Sept. 23, 2007
EXCERPT: Some called it a bridge to the future. Others called it the bridge to nowhere.

On Friday, Alaska decided the bridge really was going nowhere, officially abandoning the project in Ketchikan that became a national symbol of federal pork barrel spending.


Gov. Sarah Palin, a Republican, said Friday that the project was $329 million short.

”We will continue to look for options for Ketchikan to allow better access to the island,” Ms. Palin said. ”The concentration is not going to be on a $400 million bridge.”


”For somebody who touts process and transparency in getting projects done, I’m disappointed and taken aback,” said State Representative Kyle Johansen, Republican of Ketchikan. ”We worked 30 years to get funding for this priority project.”

Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young, both Republicans, championed the project through Congress two years ago, securing more than $200 million for the bridge between Revillagigedo and Gravina Islands.

Under mounting political pressure over pork projects, Congress stripped the earmark, or stipulation, that the money be used for the airport, but still sent the money to the state for any use it deemed appropriate.


On Friday, Leo von Scheben, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation, said the bridge money could be used to build roads in Alaska.

”There is no question we desperately need to construct new roads in this state,” Mr. von Scheben said in a statement, ”including in southeast Alaska, where skyrocketing costs for the Alaska Marine Highway System present an impediment to the state’s budget and the region’s economy.”

The governor urged Alaskans not to dwell on the bridge.

”Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here,” Ms. Palin said. ”But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.”

26. HEADLINE: Alaska’s bridge at a dead end; Governor shelves the project that became a national symbol for out-of-control spending by Congress
PUBLICATION: The Los Angeles Times
DATE: Sept. 23, 2007
EXCERPT: Alaska on Friday officially abandoned the controversial “bridge to nowhere” project in Ketchikan that became a symbol of federal pork-barrel spending.

“Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398-million bridge is not the answer,” Gov. Sarah Palin said in a statement.

“It’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island,” Palin said.


Under mounting political pressure over pork projects, Congress stripped the earmark – or stipulation – that the money be used for the airport.

Ultimately, Congress still sent the money to the state, but for any use it deemed appropriate.


Alaska used much of the money for other projects.


Access to Ketchikan, as with many towns in southeast Alaska, is limited to air and water transportation.

Every flight into Gravina Island requires a 15-minute ferry ride to reach the more densely populated Revillagigedo Island from the airport’s site on Gravina Island.

Ketchikan is Alaska’s entry port for northbound cruise ships that bring more than 1 million visitors yearly.

27. HEADLINE: ‘Bridge to nowhere’ hits a dead end
DATE: Sept. 28, 2007
EXCERPT: Alaska’s governor has officially dropped plans for one of two spans critics called “bridges to nowhere.”

28. HEADLINE: Supreme Court to hear Valdez oil spill case / Exxon Mobil insists that it shouldn’t have to pay any punitive damages at all
PUBLICATION: Houston Chronicle
DATE: Oct 30, 2007
EXCERPT: Eighteen years after the worst oil spill ever in the U.S., its victims suddenly face the prospect of having a $2.5 billion judgment wrested away from them by the Supreme Court.

A federal appeals court had already cut in half the $5 billion punitive damages award that a jury decided Exxon Mobil Corp. should pay for the huge Exxon Valdez oil spill that fouled more than 1,200 miles of Alaskan coastline in 1989.

The justices said Monday they would consider whether Exxon Mobil, which already has paid $3.4 billion in cleanup costs and other penalties, should face any punitive damages at all.


Gov. Sarah Palin called Monday’s decision a “kick in Alaska’s collective gut . . . It seems to be a case of `justice delayed’ being `justice denied.’”

29. HEADLINE: Conoco to Submit Alaska Pipeline Proposal
PUBLICATION: The Wall Street Journal
DATE: Nov. 30, 2007
EXCERPT: ConocoPhillips plans to submit a proposal today to build a $30 billion natural-gas pipeline from Alaska to the lower 48 states, in a sign that a delayed project to bring new supplies to growing markets could move forward.

A ConocoPhillips proposal would be the first indication that oil producers are ready to work with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her effort to jumpstart the pipeline. ConocoPhillips’s decision appears to signal a thawing on the part of oil producers, who hadn’t shown any willingness to work with the new administration amid concerns over taxes and other terms. The oil companies had negotiated a tentative deal last year with the previous governor, but it ran into political trouble and was quickly killed.

30. HEADLINE: Bearing Up (Op-Ed by Sarah Palin)
PUBLICATION: The New York Times
DATE: Jan 5, 2008
EXCERPT: ABOUT the closest most Americans will ever get to a polar bear are those cute, cuddly animated images that smiled at us while dancing around, pitching soft drinks on TV and movie screens this holiday season.

This is unfortunate, because polar bears are magnificent animals, not cartoon characters. They are worthy of our utmost efforts to protect them and their Arctic habitat. But adding polar bears to the nation’s list of endangered species, as some are now proposing, should not be part of those efforts.


We’re not against protecting plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act. Alaska has supported listings of other species, like the Aleutian Canada goose. The law worked as it should – under its protection the population of the geese rebounded so much that they were taken off the list of endangered and threatened species in 2001.

Listing the goose – then taking it off – was based on science. The possible listing of a healthy species like the polar bear would be based on uncertain modeling of possible effects. This is simply not justified.

What is justified is worldwide concern over the proven effects of climate change.

The Center for Biological Diversity, which petitioned for the polar bear to be protected, wants the listing to force the government to either stop or severely limit any public or private action that produces, or even allows, the production of greenhouse gases. But the Endangered Species Act is not the correct tool to address climate change – the act itself actually prohibits any consideration of broader issues.

31. HEADLINE: Earmarks Seen Likely to Continue, but With Details
PUBLICATION: The New York Times
DATE: Jan 22, 2008
EXCERPT: Even in Alaska, long dependent on federal largess, officials are trying to wean the state off earmarks. In her State of the State address last week, Gov. Sarah Palin, a Republican, said, ”We cannot and must not rely so heavily on federal government earmarks.”

32. HEADLINE: Alaska seeking to end project
PUBLICATION: The Houston Chronicle
DATE: Feb 22, 2008
EXCERPT: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Exxon Mobil Corp.’s plan to spend $1.3 billion to develop a North Slope natural gas field won’t stop her legal efforts to shut it and its partners out of the project.

Palin said the state will continue a court case seeking to withdraw leases from Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips for the Point Thomson field, which has lain dormant since its discovery in the 1970s. The Exxon Mobil proposal submitted Tuesday follows 22 previous plans from the Irving-based company, none of which resulted in gas output from the field.


“Exxon doesn’t have a real good track record there, after 22-plus plans of development,” Palin said. “Is the 23rd time a charm?”

33. HEADLINE: Governor Has Special-Needs Baby / Alaska’s Maverick Sarah Palin Gave Birth In April To Boy With Down Syndrome
PUBLICATION: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
DATE: May 4, 2008
EXCERPT: The results of Gov. Sarah Palin’s prenatal testing were in, and the doctor’s tone was ominous: “You need to come to the office so we can talk about it.”

Ms. Palin, known for a resolve that quickly launched her from suburban hockey mom to a player on the national political stage, said, “No, go ahead and tell me over the phone.”

The physician replied, “Down syndrome,” stunning the Republican governor, who had just completed what many political analysts called a startling first year in office.

She had arrived at the Capitol on an ethics reform platform after defeating the incumbent Republican in the primary and a former two-term Democratic governor in the general election. Her growing reputation as a maverick for bucking her party’s establishment and Alaska’s powerful oil industry quickly gained her a national reputation.


During her first year in office, Ms. Palin distanced herself from the powerful old guard in the state GOP, even calling on tight-lipped veteran U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens to explain to Alaskans why federal authorities were investigating him.

She asked Alaska’s congressional delegation to be more selective in seeking earmarks after what came to be known as the “Bridge to Nowhere” turned into a national symbol of piggish pork-barrel spending.

She stood up to the powerful oil industry, and with bipartisan support in the statehouse she won a tax increase on oil companies’ profits.

She also found time to pose for the fashion magazine Vogue while she was pregnant, and she has been mentioned as a potential running mate for presidential candidate John McCain.

34. HEADLINE: Alaska Governor Proposes $500 Million in Subsidies for a Gas Pipeline
PUBLICATION: The New York Times.
DATE: May 23, 2008
EXCERPT: Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska on Thursday proposed granting state subsidies to a Canadian company to build a long-sought natural gas pipeline.

The 1,715-mile pipeline would deliver natural gas from the North Slope of the state to markets in Alaska and the lower United States. Ms. Palin, a Republican, proposed providing $500 million in matching funds to the company, TransCanada.


The pipeline, which could supply as much as 7 percent of the current natural gas use of the United States, would extend from the North Slope, over the Brooks Range and into Alberta, Canada, where it would connect with pipelines that deliver gas to Canada and the United States. It would cost $30 billion to $60 billion, and it would not be completed until at least 2017 and potentially several years after that.

“A domestic supply of clean energy, you can’t go wrong with this,” Ms. Palin said in a phone interview on Thursday. “We’re ready to tap it.”

The pipeline has been a dream for Alaska for decades, and Ms. Palin, a popular governor, made it a central focus when she ran for office in 2006. Her administration said the pipeline would be the largest construction project ever in North America, bringing jobs and economic stability to Alaska, as well as a reliable source of energy.

35. HEADLINE: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is proposing to give nearly every resident of her state $1,200
PUBLICATION: The Washington Post
DATE: June 22, 2008
EXCERPT: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is proposing to give nearly every resident of her state $1,200 to offset energy costs that, in some cases, are double or triple the national average. Soaring oil prices that are nearly $140 a barrel have helped boost Alaska’s treasury; one state senator recently projected the surplus will hit $9 billion next year.

36. HEADLINE: (News brief)
PUBLICATION: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
DATE: June 22, 2008
EXCERPT: Jack Kelly, in the June 8 Post-Gazette, praised Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as a perfect partner for Republican John McCain in the upcoming presidential election (“McCain’s Secret Weapon”).

37. HEADLINE: Alaska Stevens’ Indictment Roils State Politics
PUBLICATION: The New York Times
DATE: Aug. 3, 2008
EXCERPT: Several months after the raids, in the fall of 2006, Ms. Palin, a suburban mayor, was elected governor as she challenged her own party leaders and campaigned on a promise of government reform. In that same election, Mr. Stevens lost much of his influence as Democrats in Washington took control of the Senate.

Now, after three Republican state lawmakers have been convicted of corruption, more face trial and Mr. Stevens has been indicted as he seeks re-election, it is suddenly Ms. Palin and a new generation of fellow Republicans to whom the party could be clinging to salvage control of a state they have long dominated.

38. HEADLINE: Campaign ’08: McCain Vets Cantor as Running Mate
PUBLICATION: The Wall Street Journal
DATE: Aug. 5, 2008
EXCERPT: Sarah Palin of Alaska, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota – three reform-minded governors also rumored to be on Sen. McCain’s list of potential running mates – as the next generation of Republican Party leaders.

39. HEADLINE: Amid sea of surprise, one person pegged Palin
PUBLICATION: The St. Petersburg Times
DATE: Aug 29. 2008
EXCERPT” While most Republicans were caught flat-footed with today’s news, David Johnson of Strategic Vision – not to be confused with “DJ” Johnson, the former executive director of the state Republican Party – predicted months ago that Gov. Sarah Palin would be selected.

He said he told listeners of KION 1460 in California in March that Palin would boost McCain’s standing with social conservatives and help the Republican image. “It allows John McCain to show his Republican Party is different from George Bush’s,” Johnson said today. “It gives a fresh face to the Republican party. We’re not just this party of stodgy old white men anymore.”


12 responses to “The Palin Papers

  1. Some people are not willin to agree, byt Palin is the right women for the job. She’ll stand up more for everday folks then Hilary Clinton or even Obama will ever will.

  2. Crafty clipping of “snips” from newspapers does not give an OBJECTIVE view. You have clipped the ‘snips’ to show only what you wish – the uncontroversial parts. For instance, the Christian Science Monitor story from 12/6/2006 also includes this that was ‘cut out’ above:
    “She is a self-described “hard-core conservative” who opposes abortion and gay marriage, looks favorably on teaching creationism in public schools, and considers the Republican platform “the right agenda for Alaska.”

  3. divisionstreet

    Was that the only objectionable [snip] you could find? It’s no secret she’s a pro-life conservative who thinks the Republican platform is better than the Democratic platform. She has indeed favored creationism being taught alongside evolution. There is no dispute about that. As far as gay marriage goes, her position is identical to that of Obama/Biden. The question is: Is her portrayal as a maverick who took on the Alaskan establishment and oil companies and ended the Bridge to Nowhere false? And was she plucked from obscurity, or was she instead someone already attracting national attention?

  4. Pingback: Who is Sarah Palin? | A Chicago Blog

  5. Great Report on Governor Palin BTW!

  6. Steve, Isn’t just as important to say she only opposed the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ after it became a red-hot political boondoggle? Isn’t it true that she previously worked and lobbied on behalf of the bridge earmark, and isn’t it an important part of her ‘Story’ that she was eager and willing to suckle the teet of Alaska’s pork-barrel king in the U.S. Senate? There might be justification for a mayor of a booming small town or even the Governor of a small population state working hard for a return of money from Congress. But to say you oppose pork barrel items and earmark spending, when your record says you embraced them, is really a kind of deceit. When you go to court with a speeding ticket, the judge doesn’t care what your intent was: “I didn’t mean to go 60 mph in a 40 mph zone.”
    The only question he or she decides is what did you actually do.? That’s what voters should ask of Gov. Palin. But really, ask it of the 25-year senator who’s at the head of her ticket.

  7. Steve,

    I posted and linked your fine offering to my tens of readers. The phones is ringing off the hook and Mabel is spinning in her McGrath -Whalen Secretary Stool trying to keep up with the Buzz!

    Here’s bit from me:

    ‘Today, Steve Rhodes offers an honest and open assessment of the HAWKEE MAWM from Wassila – with whom I am enchanted. I have no illusions that Sarah Palin would not shoot, geld, and field dress me were it in her political interests; yet, I find her to be free of the horse-shit that encoats Daley ( all but John Daley – he is H/S Free), Blagojevich, Quigley, Claypool, Shakowsky, Stroger, and Durbin. Most political journalists or would be political journalists surpass the professional horse-hit merchants – Zorn, Brown, Dold, Chapman, Greeley, Sweet, Mitchell, and Marin.’

  8. Awesome Dudes and Jan.

  9. Palin’s just another bible tot’in redneck, with lipstick. Just another regler guy like G Dub. May the God they claim to believe in have mercy and save us from them.

  10. This is terrific. One thing: It debunks the “out of nowhere” stuff, and that the Palin narrative was concocted on the airplane that brought her from Alaska to Dayton.

    But just as apparent is that the press was, as it always is, complicit for years in regurgitating narratives instead of debunking them. The eBay thing was standard Alaska process, not some novel thing she did a la “Dave,” for example.

    If the argument is that her bogus narrative is as legit as Obama’s, I’m on board.

    But the problem is the press isn’t doing its job anywhere, and we get stuck with bogus narratives.

  11. It seems to me that everyone with a blog is using palin as a means of getting traffic as well as trying to build somesort of reader loyalty. Great Idea!! Become an expert on politics and then become a blogger with class.

    Just my 2c

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