Kimberley A. Strassel on one of Barracuda's most stunning achievements as Governor of the Last Frontier:
The former mayor of Wasilla had been appointed by Mr. Murkowski in 2003 to the state oil and gas regulatory agency. She'd had the temerity to blow the whistle on fellow GOP Commissioner Randy Ruedrich for refusing to disclose energy dealings. Mr. Murkowski and GOP Attorney General Gregg Renkes closed ranks around Mr. Ruedrich—who also chaired the state GOP. Mrs. Palin resigned. Having thus offended the entire old boy network, she challenged the governor for his seat.
Mrs. Palin ran against the secret deal, and vowed to put the pipeline back out for competitive, transparent, bidding. She railed against cozy politics. Mr. Murkowski ran on his unpopular pipeline deal. The oil industry warned the state would never get its project without his leadership. Mrs. Palin walloped him in the primary and won office in late 2006. Around this time, news broke of a federal probe that would show oil executives had bribed lawmakers to support the Murkowski tax changes.
But she didn't stop there:
By February 2007 she'd released her requirements for pipeline bidding. They were stricter, and included only a $500 million state incentive. By May a cowed state house—reeling from scandal—passed her legislation.
The producers warned they would not bid, nor would anyone else. Five groups submitted proposals. A few months before the legislature awarded its license to TransCanada this July, Conoco and BP suddenly announced they'd be building their own pipeline with no state inducements whatsoever. They'd suddenly found the money.
Mrs. Palin has meanwhile passed an ethics law. She's tightened up oil oversight. She forced the legislature to rewrite the oil tax law. That new law raised taxes on the industry, for which Mrs. Palin is now taking some knocks, but the political background here is crucial.
Strassel's article debunks the "windfall profits tax" charge erroneously applied to Palin, a conservative who embraces capitalism, but rightfully condemns rampant corruption. Like Obama, she has a proven track record of accomplishment in the arena of "hardball politics" -- with the notable distinction that she plays the game on behalf of the people she serves, and not for her own self-aggrandizement.
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