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02.25.12

Sarah Palin Emails Reveal Divorce Jokes, Exhaustion, and Trouble With Levi Johnston

The former Alaska governor released the last batch of emails from when she was in office. From jokes about divorce to a confrontation between Todd and Levi, The Daily Beast excerpts the best parts.

Sarah Palin quietly—some said secretly—released the last batch of emails from her time as governor of Alaska, after making thousands of emails public in June. Some 17,000 pieces of correspondence span from her entrance onto the national stage in 2008 until she left office in 2009—with a few stray ones from previous dates thrown in—and reveal an exhausted woman facing numerous obstacles in her position.

"What If We, Er, When We Get a Divorce …"

So says a 2007 email addressed to her husband, Todd, and her aide Frank Bailey, with the subject line “Martial Problems" “If we, er, when we get a divorce, does that quell the ‘conflict of interest’ accusation with BP?” Palin wrote. At the time, Todd was working for BP’s North Slope oil pipeline. But later reports reveal that Palin was most likely joking, since the couple has been dogged with rumors that they are splitting up for years. Sarah and Todd have long a history of cracking wise about the reports on their marriage: In 2010, Palin said she called Todd “steaming” over a tabloid story that they were heading toward a $20 million divorce, and she said Todd responded by joking “$20 million? Write me a check.” “He’s good about laughing some of that stuff off,” she told People magazine.

"I Am Just Beat Down on This One"

In 2009, after facing a mountain of legal bills and feeling more and more distant from her family, Palin fired off an email at 1 a.m. saying that she is “just beat down on this one" “I am tired,” Palin wrote. “The opponents have succeeded on the drive towards our personal bankruptcy, and have divided my family.” If those lines weren’t depressing enough, the email ends like this: “One has to be single, wealthy or corrupt to function in this political system.” The exhaustion followed Palin until she left office in July 2009, when she wrote, “I just can’t take it anymore."

"Are You Flipping Kidding Me"

In addition to the string of ethics complaints filed against Palin and her family, the former governor seemed baffled by the constant media attention in her last few months as governor. When a reporter questioned her about a local issue involving the 1988 Exxon Valdez spill, Palin wrote the media attention is “bizarre” and “an indication the nat’l media will do anything to sensationalize (negatively) Alaska right now … unfortunately bc of who’s in the Gov.’s chair.” A couple months later, she seethed after national media saw her selling Girl Scout cookies at a charity event, asking “any idea how they knew to find me … the scout leaders wouldn’t have told them.” Palin also wrote in one email, “are you flipping kidding me” over a “bogus ethics charge” lobbed against Todd in 2009. “Use this quote: Are Alaskans really outraged, or at least tired of this yet? Another frivolous ethics charge by a political blogger?” Palin went on to describe her clothes, saying they were no more favors than anything else.

"My Sister Should Sue Their Tabloid Ass"

Even though the Palin family’s relationship with Levi would eventually go sour, there were times when she was willing to defend his honor. Palin’s frustration with the media dated back to 2008, in one email, she requested that the Anchorage Daily News correct an article claiming her daughter’s former fiancé was a high-school dropout, and when the paper refused, she wrote, “Arghhhh! They are so horrible!!!” In a 2009 email about local television station KTVA, an aide tells Palin he “got nowhere” when he tried to get the station to remove a headline about Palin’s daughter Bristol’s sex life. Palin responded: “my sisters should sue their tabloid ass” and then wrote another longer email an hour later that proclaimed “this is insane.” “When has a teen’s sex life EVER been reported on in the news? Never have I heard of a celebrity, criminal, anyone’s sex life reported as a hard news story.” The tabloid focus on Levi particularly bothered her, with Palin writing in 2009 that she “hated people” after rumors were printed that Johnston had a gotten another high-school girl pregnant. “No it’s not true,” she wrote to her aides. “And to double, triple check, I just called Levi. Dang these stupid people. They’re lying. What are the facts behind this allegation??? Who, where’s the baby, who’s the girl, etc.? Why aren’t Gov. Pawlenty or Perry or Schwartz kids scrutinized like this? Let me talk to the folks asking these questions, please.”

"Eliminate Reference to Hagee"

Palin has been dogged by allegations she was too close to controversial pastor John Hagee, who John McCain publicly repudiated in 2008. After Palin appeared at an event in March 2009 sponsored by Hagee’s organization, Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, spokesman Ari Morgenstern sent Palin’s office a draft of a press release about the event—and although Palin’s office said there was no need to communicate, Palin herself jumped in and said she would like to be referenced in the press release. But 90 minutes later, she sent an email saying “eliminate reference to Hagee” and then wrote, “don’t tell them ‘the Governor said ...’” Her spokesman, William McAllister, wrote back that while he is “not a fan of Hagee,” he didn’t think it would be appropriate to remove all references to him. At that point, Palin emailed back and told McAllister to call her. The reluctance to appear with Hagee is a turnaround from 2007—her pre-McCain days—when she wrote in an email that she wanted to go to Juneau for Hagee rally.

"You Know How This Media Game Works"

The Palins’ stormy relationship with Levi Johnston had not yet reached its frenzied height by 2009, but the media was already focusing on Levi and Bristol’s relationship when it was revealed that she was an unwed, pregnant teenager. In January 2009, a reporter from the Anchorage Press asked McAllister about “what transpired Saturday night between the first gentlemen and levi johnston.” When asked to elaborate, the reporter, Brendan Joel Kelly, responded that “you know how this media game works” and said that he didn’t want to “overplay my hand here” but he had heard about “the first gentlemen having a confrontation with the father of his first grandson.” Kelly was quick to say he didn’t think Bristol and Levi’s relationship should be reported on, but “we both know what it is.” McAllister then offered to call Kelly, who later asked if Johnston was living with Todd and Sarah. McAllister forwarded the exchange to Palin and wrote, “I don’t know. But see, that’s another detail that’s not part of public policy or state government or even politics.”

"Why Does He Suggest I Said I Could See Russia From My House?"

It became one of the most repeated lines of the 2008 campaign, that Palin “could see Russia from my house.” But that particular line was never uttered by Palin, it came from Tina Fey impersonating the former governor. Palin had originally said that Russia can be seen from parts of Alaska—a claim she fiercely stuck by. “Why does he suggest I said i could see russia from my house?” she wrote in early 2009 when a political opponent attributed the line to her. “I said u can see russia from Alaska, in trying to explain the proximity.”