Warning, this is a rant.

I can't help myself. I'd like to ignore Sarah Palin, but I can't. The Palin factor is just too mind-boggling and too scary. Her popularity continues to drive McCain's presidential bid from moribund to vital to frighteningly possible. She's like a trick mirror in which America can only see the illusion of a plucky, attractive, god-fearing hockey mom.

But that image is a lie. This mirror has two faces and the other one is of an extremist, a liar, an incompetent ignoramus who is so unprepared to be a 72-year-old's heartbeat away from running this country that electing Palin-McCain takes on catastrophic consequences for anyone paying attention. And here I owe my sincerest apologies to Charlie Gibson, who did as best as he could to expose this illusion. But what can you do to engage a robot? She came off in Gibson's interview like the Stepford VP.

In the face of Gibson's probing about the Bush doctrine, what she'd do if Israel decided to bomb Iran, about Russia, about the fact that she's never met any foreign leaders or even been out of the country for all intents and purposes, Palin answered like a doll whose string gets pulled and can only repeat the same nonsensical-to-terrifying answers. The manufacturing of Sarah Palin is intended to perpetrate the grand illusion that McCain's chose a refreshing, no-nonsense, down-home outsider — someone just like you and me, darn it — and didn't make a devastating mistake and misjudgment.

It's a cynical ploy and it appears to be getting rewarded. Recent polls show whites and rural voters running over to the Palin-McCain ticket in droves, driven by some kind of terrifying cultural affinity for small-mindedness and reactionary ideology, philosophy and thought. Is this country not in ruin enough after seven years of this?

What she says about this country's electorate is the most frightening thing of all. As she hewed closely — or even more extremely than the Bushies themselves — to the Bush administration's perspective on the world, and seems to be getting rewarded in spiking polls and frightening, visceral adulation for it, it's as if the past seven years never happened.

At this point, I can't blame anybody, not Charlie Gibson, Obama, the Dems — nobody but we are to blame for what seems like a slow moving tragedy, a political hurricane Ike, in process.

The intellectual laziness of this country baffles and depresses. One would hope we wake up from this long, national nightmare perpetrated by Karl Rove and perpetuated by our own stupidity and fear.

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