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Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': What we learned when Sarah met Kate + 8

21239_2107 There are certain ideas that sound brilliant to reality TV producers, and to no one else in the world. "Conveyor Belt of Love." "Fat March." The all-too-straightforwardly named "Hurl." And now we can add: Kate Gosselin and her eight children join the Palin family on a camping trip in bear country. What could possibly go wrong?

Actually, not much does. The kids have a blast until their cold, whiny mother insists that they leave, an outcome that could have been predicted by anyone who has ever been camping. Or seen people camping on TV. Nevertheless, the show, as always, has valuable lessons to teach us.

1. If you love your kids, you’ll shoot to kill.

The first half of the episode is devoted to lessons in bear safety, the procurement of an enormous new gun for Palin, and a lot of remarks like this one: “Bein’ out and about in Alaska’s wilds, it’s more common than not to see somebody having some kind of weapon on their person. In fact, it’s probably as commonplace as if you’re walkin’ down the street in New York City and you see somebody with a BlackBerry on their hip.”

At this point, I have some questions. Like, do people still carry phones on their hips, or was that some kind of bizarre product placement/dog whistle mash-up, in which “BlackBerry” also means “imaginary illegal handgun that certain paranoid rural voters are sure all New Yorkers carry”? And when you’re out and about in Alaska’s wilds, how often do you see other people at all? And wait, didn’t you all say this show wasn’t an eight-hour political ad?

Palin answers that last one for us: “Even for those who, maybe on a political level, think they are anti-gun, they need to realize, if you are out in the wilderness -- and perhaps you’re with children -- camping, well, you’re putting yourself and your family in danger if you are not armed, if you are not prepared for a predator.” Sure, and that totally explains why your average suburban family needs a gun in the home. I mean, come on, does that really still work on anyone?

Yep! Kate Gosselin: “I can’t say I’m a gun advocate, necessarily, but there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to protect my kids.”

Except, say, refuse an invitation to take them camping in bear country for a reality TV stunt.

2. When your favorability rating is at an all-time low, it helps to hang out with someone the public finds even more odious than you.

Four words I never, ever, ever believed I would say: “Right on, Sarah Palin.” When she’s rolling her eyes and snarking about Gosselin’s completely predictable Oh my god, you meant outdoor camping? meltdown, it's awfully hard not to relate to her. 

3. But that only goes so far.

That brief moment of shared humanity was, of course, tempered by (among other things) Palin’s relentless lust for bear blood; the scene where she gently chides Piper for cheating on her homework but doesn’t actually insist that she stop; and the fact that once again, Mama Grizzly’s on vacation, banging on about the importance of spending time with loved ones, minus her youngest child. Perhaps this trip would have been unpleasant or unfeasible for Trig, but where I come from, parents usually plan “family vacations” that don’t require leaving a little kid behind. I guess that’s not how they do it in Alaska?

If that weren’t enough to undo my microsecond of appreciation for Sarah Palin, then there’s the fact that despite it all, she still has Kate Gosselin’s endorsement. “I admire her for being a strong woman who doesn’t back down, who doesn’t let the world’s opinion of her change her or get to her,” says Gosselin in an interview that could easily be from a “woman on the street” campaign commercial, if the woman on the street had Botox, a spray tan, and her own reality show.

I don’t suppose it’s occurred to either of them that when your approval rating is plummeting toward single digits, it might be worth giving the world’s opinion of you a second look.

-- Kate Harding

Photo: Kate Gosselin meets Trig Palin, carried by Willow Palin, as the Gosselin children climb aboard Todd Palin's plane at the Palins' house in Wasilla, Alaska. Credit: Gilles Mingasson / TLC

Comments () | Archives (64)

Well obviously the author of this diatribe has no experience camping, I love this show Sara Palin's Alaska...I am Canadian, and I admire Sara and her family, you can keep your political views. Kate was just a whiney sissy, her kids were awsome and Sara's Dad gets my popularity vote anyday.

Seriously? Did you see the show or look for jabs to use against Sarah Palin.
Calling Sarah "thirsty for bear blood" was just a dumb comment. But I guess if all you write is jabs on entertainment than I shouldn't be too shocked right?

Try to look instead at the good moments of the kids and Sarah's father...the scenery...the family moments at the end.


Nice sarcastic review. But I wouldn't expect anything less from the LA Times.

That was one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time. Hard to imagine that anybody could be as much of a citified wimp as Kate. Oh my goodness, civilization simply can't exist without paper towels at hand!

Seems that Kate Harding, who wrote the story above, would fit into the same mold as the other Kate too, maybe it's just women who go by "Kate" who can't take having grass under their feet. Kate Harding makes her feelings known by her comments on guns and talking about Sarah Palins "relentless lust for bear blood". So, in the end, the show was funny as heck and this piece exposes another useless and clueless "Kate".

I've read a few of these reports and Kate Harding is an idealogue with an agenda more pronounced than Sarah Palin's. Why all the hatred? Whatever this is, it isn't journalism.

Politically I do not support Palin however I think as a woman and mother she is great.. Kate was the one making a fool of herself not Sarah she did nothing wrong. The whole little comment about the baby not being along for the trip was unjustified I'm sure many of mothers would not want to drag a baby into the cold wilderness to camp, myself included. It would be misery for the baby.

I just love it when women belittle other out of jealousy. This writer is pathetic!! Perhaps maybe she's spent a lot of personal time with Sarah Palin; NOT! I doubt she's ever even been to Alaska. I'm sure everyone understood what Palin was trying to say which is basically, carrying side arms in Alaska is as common as carrying a blackberry in NY City. This is such petty writing. Do they actually pay this woman to write? If so what ever they're paying her is way too much. Just another woman who's a woman hater, especially when the other woman has 10 times the class and is 1en times as smart as this writer will ever hope to be.

I'm no Kate Gosselin fan, but what does it say about an almost 50 yr old woman when she invites someone on a camping trip and makes fun of her because she finds it difficult...(which under the circumstances most would). She spent most of her time making snide remarks about Gosselin and trying to portray a frontierswoman when she is nothing other than an attention freak just like Gosselin is. Sarah...if you don't like it when people see you for what you are, why not try to pay more attention to your wayward kids and less time trying to be in the limelight.

I thought Palin acted like a churlish rube. Gosselin was obviosly sincerely uncomfortable, perhaps she was even having a panic attack.

Which version was Kate watching??
Sarah had a blank in her gun to distract or scare bears, and was told only to kill as a last resort. Hardly a lust for bear blood. It would have been nice to have sun for the camp, but you always make the best of the weather.

please don't assume that everyone in alaska is like Sarah, or even that we all like Sarah. most of us just wish she would go away. nothing that she says or does should be taken as representing alaskans.

Love Sarah's show.

i understand Jon gosselin's pain now.

Sarah and her family showed their class and true grace. They entertained and fed Kate's children while she stood under a canopy protecting her hair extensions and make up from a drizzle, and had the nerve to complain. Your article is pure bias.

Well, I don't live in the wilds of Alaska and I own a lot of guns for the animals that surround me. GET OFF YOUR POLITICAL BOX and get a real life you whiny nosed liberal. There are worse things to fear than bears and I DO SHOOT TO KILL.

It seems that no matter what Sarah Palin says or does, she will always be criticized by those with a political agenda. This article joins that same bandwagon.

My husband and I love the show and hope it will be renewed. No matter the reason for Sarah's show, this show will definitely be good for tourism in Alaska. It's refreshing to see that there are some politicians that are as down to earth as the average family. My husband would love for me to be another Sarah Palin. I wish I was more like her.

I have seen Kate + 8, and she was "way out of her element." It would have been better if she never did the show. I felt sorry for the kids that they had to leave when they were having a wonderful time.

I don't blame Kate at all, it was RAINING, and with 8 children, who never camped before, that's almost impossible. They should have gone to a campgroud, as I know, having been in Alaska for 6 weeks (with an RV), there are many campgrounds, closer to the Palin home, than over at Talkeetna, which I know, for a fact, is a very "buggy" area. Sarah could have made it alot easier for Kate and her family at a campground. I also wouldn't want to be near a river with small children. I bet Sarah and her family didn't even stay the night, especially with that gorgeous RV of their's.

Sarah Palin is a real person and drives the left crazy. A woman who hunts, oh the horror. The American people have the right to be armed and guess what Kate none of us have to think or agree with you. You don't get to run our live. What is all this hate about anyway Katie.

Kate has turned into a spoiled little witch! Sarah and her family showed her and her kids a wonderul Day and what did she do to thank them? Hmmmm cry, and whine! Kate seriously- I used to be on your side but you have now showed your true colors!

I've wilderness camped alone with my children throughout their lives all over the world in all sorts of conditions but never with a TV crew and stage props (rifles, ammo, camo, etc.,). Sarah Palin is one more person on my list of people who qualifies as "extra baggage" on any true wilderness outing or challenging activity in real world conditions. Bears and other children-eating monsters are the least of one's problems in the wild and natural world, the biggest problems are human ignorance and arrogance.

Just watched the show. Sarah Palin is fine, in her own way. I respect that way. Kate Gosselin is the ultimate wuss. A typically modern American pathetic excuse for a woman, whose only claim to that definition (woman) is that she gave biological birth. She's certainly not a supportive mother, open to having her children experience life, as witness her rapid retreat from the cold, rainy, camping site.
As far as guns are concerned: say no more. Really. Say no more! Your sentiments are obvious, Kate Hardin. You and that Gosselin twit are truly sisters under the skin.

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