The Education of Sarah Palin

The Republican vice-presidential nominee talks directly to Seattle Weekly readers about her long transcontinental journey to a bachelor’s degree.

Editor's Note: After numerous requests for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's college transcripts were met with either silence or bewilderment, the Weekly agreed to let the Republican vice-presidential nominee author an "unfiltered" essay detailing the five years she spent at five colleges in three different states before earning a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987. Per terms of the Weekly's "straight talk" agreement with Governor Palin's handlers, this article has not been edited for spelling, grammar, length, or general coherence.The year was 1984, and I could see Moscow from my dorm. Reagan was just gettin' elected to his second term as President, the Russians were bein' stared down by Ronnie, and it was mornin' in Idaho, that's for doggone sure. The drinkin' age was 19, I could jog to Pullman to meet boys, or the boys from Pullman could get in their trucks and drive to Moscow to drink and meet me. Mostly it was the latter, and it was lotsa fun. But I still missed Todd—when I wasn't drinkin' with the boys from Wazzu, anyhoo.Moscow was a thrivin' international city at the time, full of hard-workin' folks like my pop and mom, Chuck and Sally, who once owned a tavern in West Seattle that they named after themselves. Moscow had a library, some churches, some parks, and even three non-white folks who spoke in tongues, just like at church back home. And, of course, the girls' basketball team was mostly lesbians. Playin' pickup with these lesbians and showerin' with 'em after made me think of Todd less, and also made me appreciate that their choice to be lesbians wasn't a bad one in their eyes, even if it was bad in the eyes of God. And I'm not one to play God, unless we're talkin' about the End of Days and the United States military's obligation to root out the infidels. When it comes to this, I don't blink, and neither does the Almighty.My first quarter at the University of Idaho, which is in the heart of Moscow, I started slow on purpose, takin' only Archery and Comparative Religion for courses. I got an A-plus in Archery. How could I not? As a girl, nary a week went by when I didn't fell a caribou in the woods. I loved playin' Robin Hood back when I was young, except I pretended Robin was a girl. Robin is just as common a name for a girl as it is for a boy, y'know?As for the comparin' of religions, it was tough, because I didn't think any religion really compared to my religion, which is the best religion in the universe. When a Jewish boy in class stated that he believed Jesus was just another really cool guy, I invited him out for supper and told him that I knew of a group on campus called Jews for Jesus, and that he should join. After lotsa pitchers of beer at John's Alley, he said that he saw Jesus in me. Coincidentally, the Jew I was talkin' to's name was Jesus too—y'know, like the Mexican Jesuses. Until then, I didn't know they had Jews in Mexico.Durin' winter quarter, I took a class that would end up shapin' my worldview as a PTA member, small-town mayor, governor, and later as John McCain's maverick pick for vice president. The class was Eastern European History, where I learned about the Crimean War and a Russian leader named Joe "Six-Pack" Stalin, who held an office there that was only a little more powerful than the office I will be sworn into come January. Then if somethin' terrible happens to President McCain, I'll be President. And while I was probably raised as more of a Joe Six-Pack than the original Stalin—rhymes with Palin!— I'll never forget how he inspired me every mornin' at 10:10 a.m. in Jefferson Hall. (To be honest, if there was a fraternity mixer the night before, that was a tough class to make.)The Crimean War pitted the Russians against the French, Brits, and some Italians. Right off the bat, this didn't seem fair to me, at least in sportin' terms. Then again, if the French, British, and Italians were to take the best players from their teams and play the Russian team in the 2016 Chicago Olympics, the Russians would probably still win—in hoops or in hockey, doesn't matter.The war started because Napoleon wanted to be recognized as the sole authority in the Holy Land, which of course includes the entire planet, because we are all children of God. Russia didn't like this, and so eventually a war started over the Holy Land and what not. The first thing that struck me about this conflict is that it obviously had to do with religion. Doesn't everything? Some things never change, y'know.But did y'know that the guy who invented dynamite also invented the Nobel Peace Prize? That guy was Alfred Nobel, and his dad, Immanuel—who helped the Russians during the Crimean War—was way into gunpowder, just like I've always been. I don't remember who won the Crimean War, but the lesson I took from it is if the guy who invented dynamite can also invent the peace prize, then war is peace. This was a lesson Six-Pack Stalin apparently learned too, both through his domestic policy of ethnic and political cleansin', and later when he stared into Hitler's eyes and saw the letters N-A-Z-I.Great Joe Six-Packs think alike, even if one of their names is Sarah.Most of you probably know this, but it snows a whole lot in Alaska. It's also real cold—arctic cold. Sometimes, I liked the snow and cold—there were years when it was like Christmas year-round, givin' me the feelin' that it was Jesus' birthday every day. I can't imagine a better feelin', but as an 18-year-old graduate of Wasilla High, all I could imagine was sun and sand—so I went to the University of Hawaii-Hilo for my freshman year of college.Well, there was sand on the big island, alright, but there wasn't much sun. Me and my pal Kim Ketchum didn't have the Internet in the '80s, and so we had no way of knowin' that the area where Hawaii-Hilo's campus is was one of the rainiest regions in that entire island continent. After a week or so of gettin' soaked durin' orientation, we skipped registerin' and transferred to Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu.Oh, how sunny it was on Waikiki Beach! And, ohmigod, there were so many Orientals in that city, and just folks in general. Folks were everywhere; regular folks sellin' sunglasses, hashish, surfboards, watches—just salt-of-the-earth people. Then there were some not-so-regular folks, like Tom Selleck. This was back when Magnum P.I. was on the air, and we visited the set. But almost as soon as I emerged from Mr. Selleck's dressin' room an hour after filmin' wrapped, I knew I didn't much like Hollywood elites, or elites in general—which is why, for my next college, I headed to Coeur d'Alene, near where I was born, to go to the most Joe Average of types of schools: community college, somethin' none of my predecessors as vice president has ever done themselves, hence their inability to relate to average Jill and Jerry Lunchpails who have to heat up leftover stone soup for supper.Here, at North Idaho College, me and Kim lived in a dorm, where I pulled a really funny prank one night by settin' off a fire alarm. Only the dean didn't think it was so funny. Neither did the firemen, but me and Kim made them cookies and margaritas, which seemed to cheer them up significantly. By the time they left our room, they had taken their shirts off and were super relaxed, drivin' back to the station in only their boots and suspenders.The community college in Idaho was also where I discovered the power of television. Boys had always told me that I was cute, but I didn't believe it all the way until I saw myself on the monitor. I knew my face had a special somethin', and if I winked, no one would really care what was comin' out of my mouth, unless they had a tongue fetish. I didn't blink when I got on camera, not then nor in my post-graduate year as a sportscaster, but I winked—a lot. And it got me places.Just look at me today: I'm in places all over the country, stumpin' for a war hero and a maverick who's as much a maverick as I'm a maverick, or any of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks are mavericks, although it seems like Dirk Nowitzki blinks whenever he's under pressure, which wouldn't make him a good vice president, obviously. Like I told John—can I call him John?—when I accepted his promotion from governor of the country's most sparsely populated state to vice president: I don't blink, nor will I ever.After gainin' my associate's diploma, I went to Moscow, where, again, I became enamored with Six-Pack Stalin and Russian diplomacy, which I've kept an eye on all these years since from my hot tub in Wasilla with the assistance of high-powered binoculars. These binoculars were a gift from Todd's dad, who's from Seattle (imagine that I'm winkin' at ya here, Seattle!), and they have night vision. So dogged was I in my surveillance of the Russians that sometimes, when Trig needs to be fed at 3 a.m., after I put him back down, I go out on the deck with the night vision binoculars and see what the Russians are up to—whether they might be threatenin' our national security. One time, I thought I saw a UFO, and because most UFOs are believed to be Russian fighter jets, alerted the Alaskan National Guard. But it turned out to just be the First Dude flyin' Piper—our plane, not our daughter—home after the World Series of Snowmobilin'.Anyhoo, where was I? Oh yeah, Moscow—again, what an experience studyin' in that meltin' pot of international intellectuals was! So diverse was the thinkin' on campus that the Ag majors successfully petitioned to grow asparagus and lettuce alongside the potatoes that had long dominated the school-owned acreage in the Palouse. What an open-minded community. What freedom. That was my first true taste of the nourishin' power of democracy.But in spite of the fact that I rarely covered a dinner or drink tab without the wholesale assistance of a male suitor or one of the lesbians on the basketball team, I was pretty broke. So I set my sights on becomin' Miss Alaska, occasionally travelin' back home for pageants. I didn't win Miss Alaska, but I came real close (I did earn some tuition money winnin' Miss Wasilla, after all)—and I saw a lot of Todd, who was sorta in the dumps after gettin' a DUI and not havin' me around to smooch and hug. It was on one of those trips home that I first uttered the phrase "drill, baby, drill"—to Todd, wouldn't ya know!—and decided to move back home to the neighboring town of Palmer and transfer to another two-year school, Matanuska-Susitna Community College, even though I'd already been in college for more than two years.For those of you who don't know Palmer and Alaska's Mat-Su region in general, what we have here are a bunch of huge towns, mostly each with about 7,000 people in 'em, that really like hockey, huntin', and drinkin' until 5 in the mornin', which is when all the bars are supposed to close (they reopen at 6), a right inscribed in the Alaskan constitution —which is to be held above all other constitutions, includin' the doggone U.S. constitution—that I successfully fought to preserve as mayor of Wasilla once Todd and I got married, grew up, and had kids.People drive real big trucks out of necessity. Trucks are needed to drive through thick snow and haul gas and game, all hallmarks of the Mat-Su lifestyle. Higher education is considered for many, includin' Todd, to be an afterthought. But not to me: My dad was a teacher, so not goin' to college was never an option. In fact, I was so excited to go to college that I ended up goin' to five of 'em to really get out and see this great big world we live in, a world which I will soon be first-in-line to lead.Eventually, I returned to Moscow for a second time, where I stuck to it and got my bachelor's degree in journalism. Because of my love for the media—not the media elite, mind you, but the sort of media favored by my clique of hockey moms, the Elite 6 (isn't that name ironic? Dontcha think? Shout out to Alanis! Willow loves you!)—I asked the tough questions then, and I ask the tough questions now. But I never ask the tough questions of myself, because questionin' myself would mean that I'm not certain I can do the vice president job. And I am certain. So I don't question myself. Ever. Not even on simple things, like whether to use cloth or disposable diapers for Trig, or whether to buy Todd and the girls chicken instead of steak at the grocery store on busy weekdays when we don't have time to kill our own food. It's Huggies and T-Bones for the Palins. Always has been, always will.Before I conclude, I'd just like to say God bless Seattle Weekly for providin' me with this opportunity to talk directly to you, the votin' readers. It's surprisin' that a paper run by alcoholic Communists would respectfully and deferentially allow a Christian conservative like myself to provide voters with the sort of unfiltered straight talk that's just so much better than objective reportin', but maybe they were taken with my hard-to-reconcile love of Six-Pack Stalin. I don't know, I just have a way of winnin' people over, I guess, even my opponents, like Joe Biden, who doesn't drink six-packs, but instead drinks real expensive chardonnay (that most average Americans can't afford or don't know where to buy), even after playin' pickup squash in the Congressional gym before he catches the midnight train to Wilmington. Or so I'm told.In closin', I'd like to say that I think average Americans can relate to spreadin' the college experience out over five years and five schools, whereas they can also relate to Todd's experience of not completin' college and settlin' for a lucrative career in the fuel industry. You want experience, America? I've got more experience than any other candidate—ever—in terms of the number of colleges gone to before gettin' that hard-earned degree. It's like comparison shoppin': You have to shop around before you know where you're gonna get the best bang for your buck. And doggone it if I didn't get my money's worth. You will too, America.

 
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