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Palins cookin' with gas: Iron Dog and Twitter storm against Obama State of the Union

Craig Medred

Life has been busy for the Palin family in Alaska this week with papa Todd in the workshop gearing up for the Sunday start of the 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmachine race from Big Lake to Nome to Fairbanks, and mama grizzly Sarah, possibly with some help from staff, in the studio launching a Twitter-storm of commentary on President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Wednesday, under the hashtag "#sotUGottaBKiddingMe."

Politico.com, which keeps track of what's trending in the political Twittersphere, reports the former Alaska governor and one-time vice presidential candidate went head-to-head live with the president from somewhere in cyberspace. Politico did, however, manage to miss Sarah's savviest presidential smackdown. Fox Nation didn't.

An affiliate of her old employer -- Fox News -- Fox Nation posted all of Sarah's Tweets under the headline: "Palin Fact Checks Obama." Among those Tweets was this one after Obama mentioned energy: "The average price per gallon of gas has increased 96 percent since Obama took office."

The tweet nicely echoed Sarah's hero, the late President Ronald Reagan, who during the 1980 presidential debates so famously asked, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

The AAA Fuel Gauge Report, put together buy a club for motorists that surveys 100,000 gas stations daily, reported the 2009 national average price for a gallon of unleaded at $2.34 and the most recent national average at $3.63. That's a consumer-painful increase of 55 percent, but various conservative websites got the even bigger 96 percent by taking the daily average price from Jan. 19, 2009, against the daily average price for as of Monday, and Sarah was going with the flow.

As anyone who drives know, gas prices now fluctuate regularly and considerably, and Sarah's point that they just keep going up is an accurate one that is not good news for Todd, who needs pricey fuel to power his snowmachine north along the Iditarod Trail to Nome and then on to Fairbanks. Gasoline was going for $7.80 a gallon on Thursday in the remote community of Galena, Alaska, along the Yukon River a little beyond halfway on the Iditarod Trail. That's about 115 percent above the national average.

The cost of fuel has not, however, dimmed enthusiasm for the Iron Dog in a state where the snowmachine long ago left the sled-dog teams behind. A past Iron Dog champion, Todd was once more famous in Alaska than his wife the governor. A long winless streak has dimmed his shine a bit, but he and partner Scott Davis, a Soldotna businessman, have teamed up with a new sled sponsor this season and hope to once again show the Iron Dog young bucks how things are done.

The 53-year-old Davis is a legend in Alaska snowmachine racing. He has won the Iron Dog, the world's longest and toughest snowmachine race, seven times. Todd, 48, has three victories. The last was in 2007, a year in which he just happened to be teamed with Davis. They have raced well with others, but seem to especially well together. Despite that and their new Ski-doos, many think age has become a handicap for the duo.

Not so for Sarah, who is still young in American political terms. And her all-about-substance Tweets on Obama's speech Wednesday sparked some speculation about what race she might be thinking about trying to win in the future. Various pundits have opined that if she really wants to run for president, she needs to brush up on the substance stuff.

She was thought to be making a run at the Republican nomination for the job in 2102 when she announced the SarahPac One Nation Bus Tour. But the bus hit a big bump on the East Coast when its star attraction explained Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere as the guy "who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed."

The historical fumble became fodder for late-night comedians, and what was thought to be a bus tour to set the stage for a presidential run became a bus tour to give the Palin family from Alaska a chance to see America, or at least that America east of the Mississippi.

Sarah, now however, seems to be bulking up on facts.

Her Tweets Wednesday even referenced the President's position on "sequestration," something almost no one in the country really understands. "Keep in mind that the sequester was Obama's baby," Sarah said. "He signed it into law. Now he thinks it's economic Armageddon."

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com