SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) — YouTube is being flooded with mocking videos by Sarah Palin imitators, attracting millions of viewers and triggering stormy online debate between the aspiring vice president's fans and critics.
Snippets of a sketch featuring actress Tina Fey mimicking Palin and comedian Amy Poehler playing former White House contender Hillary Clinton have rocketed to fame on the video sharing website just days after airing on the television show "Saturday Night Live."
"I believe diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy," Poehler's Clinton character asserts in the sketch.
"And I can see Russia from my house!" Fey's convincing version of the neophyte governor of Alaska chimes in response with a beauty pageant smile.
The web, and in particular file sharing sites like YouTube, is notoriously fertile ground for US political satire; Clinton, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are routinely made fun of.
The 44-year-old Palin's relative inexperience on the national political stage and her conservative stance on hot-button social issues, combined with her status as a moose-hunting former beauty queen and self-professed "hockey mom," has made her a particularly popular target on the web.
YouTube member Sara Benincasa has been posting video logs, or "vlogs," starring herself as Palin, who was tapped only three weeks ago to be Republican John McCain's running mate.
She compares the demands of heading a local parent-teacher association to those of running sparsely populated Alaska and opines on how being a mother of five children makes her fit to run the United States.
"I don't think qualifications necessarily mean that you have to have been a senator or led a state with more than five people in it," Benincasa's rendition of Palin says in a vlog.
"I think qualifications mean that you're the kind of mom that can go in labor while she's giving a speech in Texas and then instead of going to a hospital after that traveling eight hours in a plane back to your home state of Alaska."
A cross-dressing Palin impersonator in a video titled "Sarah Palin Exposed" opens with excited thanks for being chosen the Republican candidate for president, then reluctantly changes it to "interim vice president."
The character smirks conspiratorially and taps a finger above her chest, hinting she expects the 72-year-old McCain's heart to expire before the next would-be president's term in office.
The Palin impersonator intermittently scoops baby dolls from the ground, apologizing for spontaneously giving birth, while she lists accomplishments that include rooting for high school sports teams and helping get a traffic light installed in an Alaska town.
"There isn't enough lipstick on the planet to cover up Palin's lack of experience and knowledge," a YouTube member with the online name Surfinhard4u wrote in a comment posted Tuesday in a forum linked to the transvestite Palin video.
The writer went on to express faith that Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden will "mop the floor with her bee-hive" hairdo.
Along with messages expressing terror that Palin and McCain might win in November were postings condemning the video mockery or expressing lust for the woman who was first runner-up for Miss Alaska 1984.
Former Hewlett-Packard chief executive and current McCain advisor Carly Fiorina blasted the Saturday Night Live sketch in a television interview.
"They were defining Hillary Clinton as very substantive and Sarah Palin as totally superficial," Fiorina said. "I think that continues the line of argument that is disrespectful in the extreme and, I would say, sexist."
Fiorina's comment prompted The Young Turks channel on YouTube to post a video calling Fiorina's accusation of sexism "absurd" since Clinton was portrayed as capable while Palin was harpooned.
"It is just unbelievable to me this woman is actually running for vice president," original Saturday Night Live star Chevy Chase said while lauding Fey's impersonation of Palin in an interview posted on YouTube.
"Comedy is perspective," Chase said. "The more the nation understands that McCain has lost his mind, the better it is. Really."
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