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Alaska Republican Sen. President: 'it's Just Surreal'

Among the numerous Sarah Palin mini-scandals that have trickled into public view in the last few days, one of the more disturbing is Palin's appearance last January on the Bob and Mark Show, where she sat back and listened to the DJs describe Republican State Senate President (and cancer survivor) Lyda Green, whom Palin had bumped heads with in the legislature, as "a cancer. She is nothing but a very jealous woman. I'm going to say what I wish you could say: Lyda Green is a bitch, and she needs to go away, because she is a cancer on the state of Alaska."

But Lyda Green, it turns out, had some interesting observations about Sarah Palin too when I spoke to her on the phone today. Few in the state of Alaska have had a better view of Palin's governing style. Green has known Palin since 1994. Both, in fact, are from Wasilla. "When she was elected governor," Green told me, "I thought this would be a unique opportunity for the senate president and governor to be from the same small town in Alaska. I foresaw great things happening. But it became clear that wouldn't be the case." Immediately upon entering the governor's mansion, Green says, Palin displayed a disturbing pattern. "The thing that was most telling about her style was a lack of ability or desire to present a piece of legislation and then work on amendments," Green says. "It was basically ‘Here's what I want, and here's how it's going to be.'"

Green traces Palin's meteoric political rise back to her role as a surrogate for former Governor Frank Murkowski during his 2002 campaign. In return, Palin was appointed Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. "That commission is generally for geologists and engineers, not the wife of a BP worker," Green says. "It's a very deep intellectual exercise, and she was appointed Chair."

Palin made her mark by reporting ethics violations by fellow commissioner and Republican Party chairman Randy Ruedrich. But her role as a whistle-blower left her on the outs with the party establishment. Green says Palin felt betrayed. "She came back to Wasilla and didn't go out much. She became very pensive," Green says. "Then all of a sudden, she's running for governor." It was her ability to exploit the corruption issue--her ability to run as both a Republican and an outsider--that helped her win. "She's a very good campaigner," Green says. "People look at her and see the person they want her to be. She's very good at that."

But her sudden appointment as John McCain's VP has left Green flabbergasted. "She's qualified because she's old enough and a citizen. Is she prepared and ready? I really think there's a lot of doubt there. There's a picture I have in mind of someone to be VP, and it's someone with a greater variety of service--a little better background and experience. I wake up and I think about this and I think, ‘This can't be.' It's just surreal."

I asked Green about the steady drip of drama that's been trickling out in recent days. Does she expect any more revelations? "I wouldn't be surprised," she says somewhat evasively. "I would have thought the campaign would found out about all of it by now. But in a town this size, there aren't many secrets." 

As for the Bob and Mark interview, Green was "shocked and surprised that she would not respond to something so harsh, and even be on the show in the first place." Green says. "It's not a forum for a governor. I think she went to high school with one of the hosts; and they're very big supporters of the governor. When she called to apologize, she said ‘I hope you didn't misunderstand the radio show.' And I said, ‘No, I understood perfectly.'"