Under the big top

The McCain camp is trying to portray the Troopergate investigation as a circus.

Published October 10, 2008 5:35PM (EDT)

With the report on "Troopergate" -- Sarah Palin's firing of Alaska's public safety commissioner -- now complete, the McCain-Palin campaign will be eager to make the probe look like a partisan performance put on by supporters of Barack Obama. With the release of a new Web site, PalinTruthFiles.com, last week, the campaign all but announced its decision to stick with the twofold approach to the scandal that it has employed thus far: claiming that the investigation is an attempt by Obama proxies to influence the court of public opinion while, at the same time, sending its own proxies to various courts of law.

The site's most prominent feature is a video titled “Big Top” that paints the scandal as a conspiracy theory dreamed up in the fever swamp of the blogosphere. The investigation, the video concludes, "is nothing more than a three-ring circus emceed by Obama partisans."

Configured to look like the sort of notebook that might belong to a private eye or a roving member of the mainstream media, the site includes a page documenting the “Web of Connections” that attempts to portray the affair as partisan from its very beginnings. A blue line connects a large picture of Obama and a picture of Alaska state trooper Mike Wooten, Palin's former brother-in-law and the man who puts the trooper in "Troopergate." (Palin allegedly fired former public safety commissioner Walt Monegan when he wouldn't do the same to Wooten.)

Accompanying text explains that the “Obama campaign has contacted the union representing Trooper Wooten.” True enough, but then again, not really -- the call had nothing to do with Wooten. It was made regarding a potential endorsement.

But some big punches are saved for Kim Elton, who chairs Alaska's Joint Legislative Council, which voted to authorize the investigation, and Hollis French, the project director of the inquiry.

The video accuses French of “colluding on the issuing of subpoenas” with Steven Branchflower, the former prosecutor who's leading the investigation (and is, naturally, also targeted by the Web site). Not so much. In fact, French said last month that he decided not to subpoena Palin's former chief of staff even though Branchflower wanted to question him.

Amid these attempts to attack the legitimacy of the investigation by portraying it as a partisan witch hunt, it's important to remember one thing: At the time the inquiry was launched, Palin herself gave the council her blessing, saying, “Hold me accountable.”

Alaska legislators now have the report, and are expected to vote Friday on whether to release it. In the meantime, enjoy the pageantry. It may not be the best show on earth, but it's still pretty good entertainment.

By Andrew Burmon

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