When I walked into the Mug-Shot Saloon in Wasilla, the jukebox was playing "Sweet Home Alabama," and I felt right at home. It was a late night in early September, two days after Sen. Lisa Murkowski conceded the Alaska Republican primary to Tea Party-backed challenger Joe Miller. Two dozen patrons were shooting pool and drinking beer in the roadside saloon and didn't seem much interested in politics, although I didn't bother to ask, nor did I explain what brought me to town when I ordered a Corona with lime.
A few hours earlier, I'd been hanging out with Todd Palin at his family's home on the shore of Lake Lucille. His wife was out of town on a hunting trip for her Sarah Palin's Alaska documentary series on the TLC Network, but with the intercession of friends, I'd managed to score an audience with the "First Dude," as Sarah dubbed him when she was governor. He almost never gives interviews and so our conversation was mainly off-the-record. However, it is safe to say that Sarah Palin's most trusted adviser can discuss Alaska politics with impressive authority and is a tenacious defender of his wife's record as governor.