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From Sarah to Sandy: Why the '08 Campaign Was Way More Fun

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Remember when Sarah Palin put the "camp" in campaigns? Let's face it, the 2008 general elections were way more fun than the current one. Instead of Hockey Mom Sarah (the Thrilla' from Wasilla), now we have Frankenstorm Sandy (the 'cane that made us forget Bain). Instead of commercials comparing Paris Hilton to Barack Obama, we now watch everything on DVR and don't see campaign ads at all. And instead of the ill-conceived elevation of Joe the Plumber to national folk hero, this time we got ill-advised pronouncements about rape and incest.

Even the candidates aren't as dynamic this time around. Four years ago, we had the dashing young African-American with the exotically dangerous middle name versus the bona fide war hero with enough self-deprecating humor to sell "McCain Fine Gold" jewelry on Saturday Night Live. Now? We get the greying technocrat against the, well, greying technocrat. It's tough for either party to get too excited.

Paul Ryan may have well-toned abs and a devilishly Munsterian widow's peak, but Sarah Palin got a $900 spray tan at the GOP convention and bought a $4,690 Carolina Herrera beaded dress for herself, and silk underwear for her snowmobiling husband. Even her campaign makeup artist was an Emmy-winner for So You Think You Can Dance who got paid almost $20,000 more than McCain's own speechwriter. Palin announced her teenage daughter's unplanned pregnancy at the convention, only in an effort to deny rumors that her own son wasn't really Bristol's. Who needed Honey Boo Boo when we had Levi Johnston to entertain America?

Even the pundits and campaign advisors were more exciting. Last time around, McCain's team had bulldog Steve Schmidt and long-suffering Nicolle Wallace at odds with the VP pick they helped select. And over on Obama's team you had Rahm Emmanuel flipping off his half-finger at any reporter who crossed him.

Back in '08, the general election got higher ratings than the Kardashians. It was like a reality show where the one who couldn't name all seven continents got voted off the island. Remember Africa? At the VP debate prep at the McCain compound in Sedona, Palin thought it was one big country. Like Australia. Or Alaska.

You'll recall that MSNBC erroneously announced the source of the Palin Africa story was pundit and McCain advisor Martin Eisenstadt -- who then became a media phenomenon when it turned out he didn't actually exist. But you know it's an entertaining campaign when even the fake advisors get real book deals for their campaign memoirs. (The critically-acclaimed Farrar, Straus, Giroux best seller ostensibly written by Eisenstadt -- which in truth I co-wrote with fellow filmmaker Eitan Gorlin -- just became available as an ebook this week.)

So if you're standing in line on election day, or you're starved for some excitement while waiting for Ohio precinct returns, I might suggest a stroll down memory lane of the '08 campaign:

Watch a Hulu clip of Tina Fey doing her darndest to see Russia from her front porch. Read some of Meghan McCain's old blog posts about sharing a tour bus with Joe the Plumber. Or better yet, read the new ebook of I Am Martin Eisenstadt: One Man's (wildly inappropriate) Adventures with the Last Republicans to remind yourself of just how gloriously silly that game changing election really was.

After all, if you have to use your Starbucks-charged iPad to light your Sandy-darkened apartment in the East Village, you may as well be reading something fun.