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Sarah Palin's $159,050 Conflict of Interest

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While you read this, Alaska's First Dude, Todd Palin, is riding a snowmobile -- I'm sorry, snow machine -- 1971 miles from Big Lake to Fairbanks. In the course of performing this awesome feat, his Arctic Cat's powerful two-stroke engine will emit the same amount of hydrocarbons as an automobile driving from Chicago to San Francisco and back 150 times.

A small price for the rest of us to pay to honor the indomitability of the human spirit and one man's ability to sit and hold on.

It's not just a blaze of glory and aromatic hydrocarbon. A conventional two-stroke engine emits as much as a quarter of its fuel unburned, directly into the air. This week, as a participant in the Iron Dog™ snow machine race, Todd Palin will release as many cancer-causing and smog-forming pollutants as a Chevy Malibu driven around the Earth at its equator 28 times.

Seems like a lot of work, just to get away from Sarah Palin.

But Todd's not just doing it because he hates his home life and likes things that make loud noises and emit benzene. He does it because it's there. And for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts from corporations who do business with the Governor's office.

For riding a snowmobile.

Something you could train a bear to do.

The Emperor Nero used to clean up at the Olympic games. It was eerie. He won everything. According to Suetonius, he once won a chariot race despite falling off and not finishing the course. That's how good he was. He also never wore the same clothes twice. So he would have fit right in with the Palins there also.

I'm not insinuating anything. I'm just saying.

The total purse value of this year's Iron Dog™ is $159,050. The sponsors include the petroleum giants Tesoro and Conoco-Phillips; State Farm, Wells Fargo, Frontier Airlines, Alaska Airlines and the Alaska First National Bank.

The Iron Dog™ has fewer than 40 entrants a year, and one of them is always Todd.

Does this smell? I'm probably the wrong person to ask. I hate the cold and I think motor sports is an oxymoron. But he is Alaska's First Lady, and Tesoro is an oil company.

Let's say this was Louisiana in the '30s. If Texaco sponsored a pancake-eating contest, and Huey Long's wife kept winning it, there would have been talk.

To be fair, Todd can't win the whole purse. There are lots of little door prizes just for rookies and women and steak dinners for Cutest Hat. Just like in Jack London days.

And, to be fair, Todd doesn't always walk away from the camping trip with the hundred grand first prize. He's only won four times.

Once after Sarah was elected to the Wasilla City Council, once after she was elected mayor, the year she was appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission, and the year she was elected governor.