Also Credited As:Sarah Louise Palin
|Sarah Louise Palin on February 11, 1964 in Sandpoint, Idaho, USA|
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Sarah Louise Heath was born on Feb. 11, 1964 in Sandpoint, ID, and was raised in a middle-class household in Alaska where she learned how to hunt and fish. At Wasilla High School, she was head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and co-captain of the basketball team that won the state championship. To pay for college, Palin entered beauty pageants; she was crowned Miss Wasilla 1984 and placed third in the Miss Alaska competition, playing the flute during the talent portion. Palin had an extensive college record; she attended four different colleges over six years before graduating with a degree in communications from the University of Idaho in 1987. After graduation, Palin fulfilled a longtime dream of working as a reporter at local TV stations in Anchorage and also helped out in her husband Todd Palin's commercial fishery business. Palin's political career began in 1992 in which she served two terms on the Wasilla City Council and two terms as mayor from 1996 to 1999, where she earned the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" for taking on entrenched bureaucrats. After a failed bid for lieutenant governor in 2002, Palin served as chairman of Alaska's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, although she had very little background in the oil industry. She resigned in 2004 over ethical grounds, but not before publicly protesting against a former member of the commission whom Palin claimed was conducting Republican business in his state job.
In November 2006, Palin became Alaska's first female governor at age 42; the youngest governor in that state's history. In spite of her lack of experience, Palin's small-town image, extensive use of the media, and no-nonsense approach on ethics earned her high approval ratings. As governor, Palin enforced big changes, including passing a state law ethics overhaul. But she also raised eyebrows; in August 2008, she snubbed Alaska's oil players by signing a bill that awarded TransCanada Pipelines the license to build a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the United States through Canada. The state senate also investigated her for firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan because he allegedly refused to fire Palin's former brother-in-law (who was locked in with a child custody battle with Palin's sister at the time) from the state police. Palin denied the charges.
In August 2008, Palin stunned the political world when McCain and his advisors chose her as his running mate on the Republican presidential ticket, calling her "the running mate who can best help me shake up Washington." The news sent shockwaves throughout the country who had never heard of the self-professed "hockey mom" and first-time governor who had virtually no foreign policy and national security experience. The GOP quickly went to work on making over Palin's image - except her famous half-up hair style - with a $75,000 shopping spree at Neiman Marcus and more than $22,000 for make-up sessions. They also hired a voice coach to refine Palin's speaking style before the Republican convention. In the weeks leading up to the election, Palin faced widespread ridicule for her hokey one-liners and the few disastrous interviews she granted - including telling Katie Couric on "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" (2006- ) that Russia's proximity to her home in Alaska gives her foreign policy experience and her inability to name for Couric one publication that she read. Tina Fey - a dead ringer for the VP nominee - parodied Palin numerous times on the sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ), where Fey was a former head writer and featured player. In October 2008, Palin appeared on "SNL" in two skits; one where she watched Fey during a mock press conference alongside the series' producer Lorne Michaels and actor Alec Baldwin. Later, Palin danced in her seat to an Alaskan hip-hop song performed by "SNL" regular Amy Poehler and ended the skit with her trademark quote, "You betcha!"
While campaigning, Palin's personal life was also under intense scrutiny, particularly her reaction to her unexpected pregnancy with son, Trig, who was born in April 2008 and had Down syndrome. Palin revealed that she was initially hesitant about the pregnancy and explained that she hid Trig's condition from the public and her children at first, because she did not know how to talk about it. In September 2008, on the heels of her selection as McCain's running mate, Palin announced that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, was five months pregnant with her fiancé Levin Johnston's baby. The Republican party quickly dispelled rumors that the disclosure of Bristol's pregnancy would hurt the ticket, saying that it might actually make Palin more real and relatable. After the historic 2008 presidential elections in which Obama-Biden prevailed by a landslide, Palin maintained her high-profile position with countless media appearances and aggressive fundraising, fueling rumors that she was eyeing a presidential run in 2012. However, in July 2009, she announced that she was not running for reelection in the Alaska governor's race the following year. In November 2009, Palin released a memoir titled, Going Rogue, filled with familiar anecdotes of her as a "feisty gal" and average soccer mom in Alaska. The book was also rich with barbs directed at the McCain campaign (which she insisted was "over-scripted" and "dunder-headed"), at Katie Couric, and at all her detractors.
While her daughter Bristol's on-again, off-again relationship with the media savvy and anti-Sarah Levi Johnston continued to fascinate the public, Palin hosted the documentary "Real American Stories" (Fox News Channel, 2010), where she told stories of "real people overcoming adversities" in front of a live audience. That same year, she starred in the TLC docu-drama "Sarah Palin's Alaska," where she took viewers on a nature trip across her hometown, while at the same time, Bristol continued her quest for media attention by joining the cast of season 11 of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ).