Former Gov. Sarah Palin's bus touring around the Lower 48 had a big image of the state of Alaska, and she's constantly talking up her home state. But back home, her main initiatives as governor continue to be under attack from fellow Republicans and her poll numbers aren't looking good.
Alaskans have a complicated relationship with the most famous resident in the state's history, who during her first year in the governor's office consistently had public approval ratings at or approaching 80 percent. She's largely been out of sight in Alaska since resigning a little more than halfway through her term as governor in 2009, and many in the state have moved on from her, weary of the drama that's surrounded Palin the past two years.
But her image looms huge in the world's perception of the 49th state. Alaskans traveling out of state and internationally who used to hear questions about glaciers and polar bears now face questions about their former governor.
Palin's national identity is completely wrapped up in Alaska, whether it be her reality show highlighting the state or her descriptions of why she is qualified to possibly be the next president of the United States. She and husband Todd recently bought a home in Arizona but she emphasized that having a second home in a warm climate is a pretty Alaskan thing to do.
Her supporters have created a movie touting her record as governor. Palin brought her record up on her bus tour of the East Coast, while she says that she is considering a run for the presidency in the 2012 election.
"My record in Alaska, especially when it comes to oil and gas development and being in charge of about 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy, I know there that my record is very strong. And cleaning up some ethics problems that we had in state government, which I'm sure other governors have faced too, cleaning up the ethical problems we had in Alaska, that's part of a strong record too," Palin told reporters in Gettysburg, Pa., a stop on her bus tour, which ended Friday
Alaska is actually responsible for 2.6 percent of the nation's total energy production, ranking 12th among the states, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It is more like 11 percent of the nation's total crude oil production, second behind Texas, the EIA reports
Palin's oil policy is coming under attack from none other than her former lieutenant governor, Republican Sean Parnell, an ex-legislator and oil company lobbyist whom Palin elevated to governor when she resigned. Parnell and Republican legislators maintain that the oil tax increase Palin championed, called Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share, is seriously hindering further development of the oil and gas industry here and is hurting the state's economy.
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