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07.03.092:32 PM ET

GOP Implosion

In a matter of weeks, three of the Republicans' most promising presidential contenders—Palin, Sanford, Ensign—have tripped up, leaving the party’s leadership more adrift than ever. A Daily Beast roundup of what happened.

Palin Resignation: 11 Theories Why
by The Daily Beast

Sarah Palin's holiday-eve decision to resign as governor blindsided TV commentators and bloggers who scrambled to come up with an explanation. The Daily Beast's presents a roundup of insta-reactions.

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Rick Wilking, Pool / Getty Images

How Her Mind Works
by Mark McKinnon

Mark McKinnon, who helped prep Sarah Palin for her infamous debate with Joe Biden, says he never saw her bombshell resignation coming—and insists there's another surprise up her sleeve yet.

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Palin Has Really Gone Rogue
by Michelle Goldberg

UPDATE: The governor’s resignation speech seemed less like a farewell than like an inauguration of a new campaign. She’s unhinged, writes Michelle Goldberg—but so is much of her competition.

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AP Photo

Did a Scandal Sink the U.S.S. Palin?
by Max Blumenthal

The suddenness of Sarah Palin’s resignation raises questions about whether a coming scandal caused her to leave office. Max Blumenthal looks at one possibility.

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Mario Tama / Getty Images

How Palin's Resignation Makes Her the True Frontrunner
by John Batchelor

UPDATE: Rather than a blow to a career, Sarah Palin's decision to resign underlines her self-awareness, writes The Daily Beast's John Batchelor. She is now unmatched for the 2012 primary.

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Getty Images (2)

Sarah Palin: The Movie
by The Daily Beast

Who should play Sarah Palin, Todd, Bristol, Katie Couric, and David Letterman in the Hollywood version of the governor’s story? The Daily Beast heads to the casting couch.

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South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, right, and his wife Jenny, left, arrive at the White House to attend a dinner hosted by President Obama, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009 in Washington. The National Governors Association is holding its winter meeting in Washington this weekend. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

What the Sanfords Didn't Say
by Tina Brown

Tina Brown decodes the governor and first lady’s statements about his sexual escapade.

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Davis Turner / Getty Images

Forgive Mark Sanford
by Meghan McCain

Sex scandals like Governor Sanford’s and John Ensign’s are private matters that don’t affect public policy and shoot down rising political stars. It’s time to end hypocrisy in America.

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Davis Turner / Getty Images

The Passion of Mark Sanford
by Kathleen Parker

The cheating governor—and his impractical, impossible love for a woman thousands of miles away—is the kind of tragic, heart-swelling tale that storybook romances are made of.

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South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford reacts to a question from the media as he leaves a family home Thursday, June 25, 2009, on Sullivan's Island, S.C. The family is staying at the beach front property after the Governor admitted to having an affair with a woman from Argentina. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
Mic Smith / AP Photo

Sanford's Strange Side
by Max Blumenthal

Well before the South Carolina governor admitted his extramarital affair, there were signs the “thoughtful conservative” had a penchant for concealing potentially damaging and unusual incidents from his constituents.

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AP Photos

GOP Lothario Losers
by John Batchelor

The twin disasters of Mark Sanford and John Ensign expose the Republican Party apparatus for the laziness, pettiness, and emptiness of what is left of the leadership. But the crash of Sanford—much higher on the 2012 list—eclipses that of Ensign.

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COLUMBIA, SC - JUNE 24:  South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford speaks during a press conference at the State Capitol June 24, 2009 in Columbia, South Carolina. Sanford admitted to having an extramarital affair after returning from a secret trip to visit a woman in Argentina and said that he would resign as head of the Republican Governors Association.  (Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mark Sanford
Davis Turner / Getty Images

Sanford's Dereliction of Duty Trumps His Hypocrisy
by Paul Begala

That the South Carolina governor stepped out on his wife is his business, writes Paul Begala—though it does underscore the GOP’s culture of hypocrisy. Stepping out on his job, however, is the business of the people of South Carolina.

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William Thomas Cain / Getty Images

Sanford Should Resign
by Mark McKinnon

After his disastrous press conference, the South Carolina governor ought to pack his bags, The Daily Beast’s Mark McKinnon writes. Now who’ll be the GOP's savior in 2012?

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Landov; Getty Images

Mark Sanford: The Movie
by The Daily Beast

Runaway governor Mark Sanford’s South American love affair is perfect for Hollywood. The Daily Beast heads to the casting couch.

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Newscom

Ensign's Sex-Scandal Enabler?
by Max Blumenthal

Senator Tom Coburn knew of John Ensign’s affair 16 months ago—and concealed it from the public. But what, Max Blumenthal asks, did the conservative moral crusader tell his friend in private?

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Se. John Ensign, R-Nev. speaks about an extramarital affair at a news conference at the Lloyd D. George Federal building, Tuesday, June 16, 2009 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Isaac Brekken / AP Photo

Investigate Ensign Now
by Max Blumenthal

A leading watchdog calls for the Senate Ethics Committee to look into multiple mysterious payments made to the senator's mistress and her family.

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Susan Walsh / AP Photo

Ensign, Get Your Sorry Ass Out of the Senate
by Mark McKinnon

In the fourth of a series on the 2012 landscape, former Bush and McCain strategist Mark McKinnon says Sen. John Ensign’s hypocrisy makes his misdemeanor of adultery a felony—and he should resign.

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