Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sarah Palin's tan lines

I thought it was understood that tanning (as in: baking under the sun's rays, or in a tanning bed) is a dangerous, carcinogenic activity. But there is a whole industry of UV apologists I never knew about until I started Googling graphics for this post.

I've been watching the first season of MAD MEN on DVD, which dramatizes the early-60s advertising counter-attack on critics of tobacco: SMOKING IS FINE, EVERYONE DOES IT. (One amazing thing on MAD MEN is the constant puff, puff, puffing on high-tar cigarettes like LUCKY STRIKES; we baby-boomers grew up with that, and I'm surprised we aren't all dead.)

And now, they are telling us that searing the skin with ultraviolet rays is safe! Well, of course it is!

And guess who?!?

Palin’s Private Tanning Bed in the Alaska Governor’s Mansion

One of Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin’s First Actions as Alaska Governor Was to Equip the State Building with a Tanning Bed

By Al Giordano and Bill Conroy
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
September 15, 2008

“The governor did have a tanning bed put in the Governor’s Mansion,” Roger Wetherell, chief communications officer of Alaska’s Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, confirmed to this newspaper. “It was done shortly after she took office [in early 2007] and moved into the mansion.”

The home tanning bed in the Governor’s Mansion in Juneau adds a trivial fact among the many, big and small, coming to light about the right-wing’s latest celebrity, McCain’s gamble to try and wrestle the election away from Democrat Barack Obama, but one that – tug the thread – leads to other questions about elitism, ethics, public health and the insufferable phoniness that plagues politics and politicians.
Indeed, John McCain claims that he is always careful to use sunscreen, as well as wearing hats, caps and long sleeves. John McCain has had four melanomas, removed in 1993 and 2000.

An expensive, specialized machine, unaffordable and out of reach to most American homes, utilized to artificially enhance one’s appearance, provides an apt metaphor for political image-making in campaigns. In fact, such an energy-hungry appliance, in most cases, requires a dedicated circuit, a voltage regulator and 220 volt wiring (and for some deluxe models, a hardwire connection to the power source) — a set-up not found in 96-year-old homes.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain recently said, of Palin, “she knows more about energy than probably anybody in the United States of America.” That kind of hyperbole can be expected from the guy who picked her out of relative obscurity, but so far both McCain and Palin have claimed that Alaska supplies “20 percent” of the United States’ energy, when, according to, that figure is “not even close… Alaska’s share of domestic energy production was 3.5 percent,” and just 2.4 percent of total domestic energy consumption. Okay, so Palin may not know more about energy than other national leaders, but the revelation that her newly re-wired Governor’s Mansion includes a tanning bed may indicate that in this time of high oil prices forcing most Americans to conserve energy, Palin consumes more energy than the others.

Tanning beds of the kind used by tanning salons can cost upwards of $35,000 each.
Asked whether taxpayer funds were used to equip the Alaska Governor’s Mansion for Palin’s tanning bed, Public Facilities spokesman Wetherell confirmed that the mansion’s electrical system had been upgraded early in Palin’s term. He insisted that the electrical work was not prompted by the extra needs of a tanning bed, but, rather was part of a project undertaken to bring the historic mansion’s wiring up to current building standards.

Since governors (and vice presidents) are generally expected to be healthy role models for the nation’s youth, Governor Palin’s darkening secret raises Edwardsian questions about her habit, which medical professionals and organizations have identified as a threat to public health, a cause of skin cancer, and a problem of abuse and addiction among teenagers and others through a condition that they call “tanorexia.”
Who Paid for the Governor’s Tanning Bed?

Alaska has a very strict ethics law governing public officials. In the case of the governor, the Alaska attorney general, who oversees the state’s Department of Law, enforces the ethics laws.

Judy Bockman, an Alaskan assistant attorney general who administers the states ethics act, says the governor is mandated to disclose any gift exceeding $150 in value if that gift is in anyway connected to her official position or if it is intended to influence the performance of her public duties. And a gift is defined, she says, “as the transfer of property to a public official at less than full value.”

Bockman says she was not aware of Palin’s tanning bed. That fact would seem to indicate that the governor did not list it as a gift, since such disclosures are to be filed with “a designated supervisor,” which in the case of the governor is the state’s attorney general.

Wetherell of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities confirms that fact as well, indicating that he was informed by the Governor’s Office that Palin purchased the tanning bed “with her own money, so there was no need for an ethics disclosure.”

Wetherell says that Palin bought the tanning bed from a health club, adding that it was not a brand new machine. The fact that the tanning bed was acquired from a business also seems to indicate that it was a commercial model — which can command a hefty price tag as Wiese and Mensik point out.

Wetherell was not able to provide the name of the health club, the model of the tanning bed, nor the price Palin paid for the machine, which means there is no way of verifying, at this point, if Palin did, in fact, purchase it with her own money, and if so, whether she received a discount off market value exceeding $150 in deference to her position as governor.

If, in fact, the tanning bed was donated to Palin or her family, or provided at discount exceeding $150 as a favor due to her position, based on Bockman’s explanation of the state’s ethics law, it would have legally had to appear on her state ethics disclosure filings.

Bockman also explained that it is incumbent on a public official to disclose a gift in any case where that official suspects he or she received special treatment.

“There is an absolute bar against taking any gift that is inappropriate,” she says.

In any event, the examination of a potential ethics violation is handled on a case-by-case basis based on the particular circumstances of the event, Bockman adds.

“We don’t judge the appearance of impropriety,” Bockman says. “We look at the facts.”

The name of the health club that allegedly sold the tanning bed to Palin, its model and cost, form of payment, and that of the state contractor who did the electrical upgrade work at the Governor’s Mansion, are subject of continuing reporting by this newspaper. (Have a lead or a tip? Send it along to
I guess we need a tanned Vice President, though, don't we? Seems a small price to pay!

(((rolls eyes)))

Listening to: Patti Smith Group - Till Victory
via FoxyTunes


CrackerLilo said...

To be perfectly fair, she does live in a place where she doesn't get much natural daylight. But her habits will have to change, let's just hope she has more time to spend in her tanning bed in Alaska for the next four years!!!!

RevJim said...

"If you're always choosing the lesser of two evils, you are still choosing evil"--Jerry Garcia

"The Future is now, and we are on our own"--John Barlow

shadocat said...

I wouldn't think being tan would be such a big idea in Alaska, but apparently I was wrong---

So sorry I missed your b-day, kid---hope it was fab!

thene said...

I swear I once read some conspiratorial anti-sunscreen screeds on a wacky, old-internets, MRA site. I'm trying to find it, to no avail. I'll let you know if I do.

The thing Palin and UV apologia have in common is that both would be pretty funny if they weren't trying to kill people. :(

lilacsigil said...

UV light does have some benefits - 2 out of 3 Australians will get skin cancer in their lifetimes, so there's a whole lot of Gen X people like me who have spent our lives covered in sunscreen, only to find that now we are vitamin D deficient! Vitamin D comes from sunlight and is needed to metabolise calcium, among other things. It's also a treatment for psoriasis. But until Palin comes out with a reason, I'm going to assume vanity and skin cancer were higher on her list...

LarryE said...

Personally, I got a kick out of the Indoor Tanning Association sniping away at "partisan bloggers" and "the sun scare industry" (lead by those damned anti-American dermatologists).

I also enjoyed their contention that "it is impossible to get the requisite amount of vitamin D from the sun in cities north of 37 degrees latitude for as many as 6 months out of the year." That would mean virtually the entire population of Europe, Russia, and Canada, parts of Asia, and half if not more of the folks in the US, lack enough vitamin D from sunlight fully half of the year. (Algiers, Algeria, is at 36 degrees, 50 minutes north latitude; Beijing, China, is at 39 degrees 55 minutes; Springfield, MO, is at 37 degrees 13 minutes.)

OMG! Do you know what that means? Those hundreds of millions of people all need tanning beds!

Unless, of course, they, oh, I dunno, eat some vitamin D-fortified food. Or maybe take a multi-vitamin. Or maybe have a diet heavy in fish. Or take a tablespoon of cod liver oil a day (which supplies 340% of the recommended daily amount). Or something.

And yes, I fully realize that some of the folks in the areas I mentioned could have difficulty getting some of those alternatives. But I'd strongly suspect those same people are even further from tanning salons.

Ginny said...

Great article, this is one Palin thing I hadn't heard yet. Kind of Ironic with McCain having skin cancer several times. Interesting :)

Daisy said...

Check out Alas today:

Sarah poses with Bircher literature! (1995)

If she is a closet Bircher, this explains P-L-E-N-T-Y!

And as Jeff says, if this was Obama and THE FINAL CALL, we would be hearing about it every hour on the hour!

white rabbit said...

Sarah Palin's tan lines?

I so don't want to think about that...


white rabbit said...

Daisy - After posting comment I looked at Palin/John Birch Society link you posted. Loved the description of her as 'Spiro T Agnew with two X chromosones'

kikipotamus said...

Speaking of tanning and of addictions, I read recently in Maclean's news weekly that tanning is addictive, triggering the same brain chemistry response as addictive substances.

RevJim said...

Thank you for adding Eclectic Jammys to your blogroll. Come by and visit once in a while.

Rosa said...

I used to tan and will admit it was addictive. It just felt soooo good and relaxing to get all warmed up in bed. It was like a 10 minute trip to the beach, but without the sand and water, although some beds (the expensive ones) had a mist option and you could cool off with a push of a button. (yeah, I miss it a bit)
I gave it up last year, too much money to keep throwing away every month on something I can live without.

I also used to sell tanning lotions and frequent a tanning forum. You'd be surprised at how many Alaskans and Canadians are into tanning. I sold a sh*tload of lotions to Canadians. Must be a seasonal affective disorder thing or something about their cold weather that draws them into it. I know I loved tanning in the winter months more than summer, I swear it kept me a few degrees warmer than everyone else.

Note: I'm in no way sticking up for Palin, I don't like her.

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Anonymous said...

This seems to be another, "I really don't have any facts so I will allude to what "might" have been or what "could" have been, all slanted to make a negative point where there may have been no substance to the allegations what so ever. Just some personal opinions. For example... I just did a Craigslist search in the North West for TANNING BEDS for sale. The most expensive I could find had an asking price of $6000 and it was a "like new" Stand Up Model. I did find one listing for the dollar amounts suggested in this article... It was for an ENTIRE salon. I'm sure this is an ancient post but its still out there. To be fair, Sarah owning a Tanning Bed purchased used is hardly worthy of even questioning. I know several blue collar workers who purchased tanning beds for their wives. (used commercial models). Most paid less than $1000 and hooked them up to common household electrical circuitry. My take on this? Far reaching and riddled with unfounded insinuation for the purpose of an already established combination of dislike and jealousy towards Sarah Palin.

That's my two cents.

DaisyDeadhead said...

I'll cop to the dislike, but jealousy? Are you serious? I am hardly jealous of an illiterate idiot who is now so botoxed-up, I can't even readily recognize her (which proves her own self-hatred). Further, the kind of evil person who shoots wolves in the snow, aiming from helicopters, is not worth envy... although perhaps we should turn HER loose in the snow and track HER worthless ass with a helicopter. Let's see how well she does.

The person singularly responsible for the destruction of the Republican party (and that's damned hard to do) is not exactly worth envy... it is unbridled CONTEMPT you are reading there. In addition, I know a few local SC Repubs who would like to roast her on a spit, along with her murdered wolves and mooseburgers.