In addition to the swimsuit and talent portions, beauty pageants always include the requisite question and answer segment. Falling somewhere in the line up prior to the awarding of the coveted title, it is an attempt to portray the contestants as something more than just a pretty face in a form-fitting evening gown. Fielding high and slow softballs, one usually receives the typically canned response about world peace and feeding the hungry. However, occasionally you get the proverbial deer-in-the-headlights. Recall, if you will, Internet sensation, geography phenom and South Carolina teen beauty queen Lauren Upton. The Palmetto State beauty became the stereotypical poster child for both blondes and beauty pageant contestants after she told a panel of pageant judges the reason Americans can't find the U.S. on the map is because "Americans ... don't have maps." In the case of Alaska Governor and 1984 Miss Alaska runner-up Sarah Palin, the normal order was reversed. Having won the title in the 2008 Republican Vice Presidential Pageant first, the question of her credibility was left unanswered. Nervously but enthusiastically, Republicans waited with anxious smiles Wednesday evening for Palin to answer the question that hung uneasily in the air before a live national audience of millions. Having watched the Lauren Upton video repeatedly; I know Lauren Upton. Let me assure; after her performance last night I can say unequivocally and without hesitation; Sarah Palin is no Lauren Upton. In a speech that left Republicans electrified and Democrats stunned, Governor Palin put to rest any concerns about her credibility as the first Republican vice presidential nominee. In the process, she has brought to the Republican ticket a key missing element that the Democrats have thus far enjoyed a strategic advantage in; excitement and enthusiasm. Stepping confidently onto the national stage, the Alaskan Governor displayed a magnetic charisma; inviting smile; relaxed sex appeal and the sharp wit of a veteran politician that belies her youthful hockey mom looks. Jumping into the midst of the political fray, Palin embraced the traditional role of party attack dog with gusto. Signaling her imminent attacks with a smile, she said, You know what they say the difference is between a hockey mom and a pit bull lipstick." And with that, Republican pit bull eagerly and cheerfully latched onto Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obamas leg and never let go. In an act of political jujitsu reminiscent of Senator Obama himself, Palin turned attacks on her experience into an indictment of the Democratic nominees own limited resume; saying, I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities. In short order, the Alaskan Governor completed the combo punch adding, "In small towns, we don't heap praise on working people when they are listening and talk about how bitter they are and they cling to their religions and guns when those people aren't listening." "We prefer candidates who don't talk to us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco." Introducing herself to many in her own party as well as the American public generally for the first time, Palin portrayed herself as a proud mother of five that married her high school sweetheart. With one son in the Army about to be deployed to Iraq; another a perfectly beautiful baby boy with Downs Syndrome; and three daughters including the pregnant 17 year-old Bristol the Palins are a family whose values are firmly rooted in the populist sentiment and patriotic persistence of small town America. Referring to the good people of honesty, sincerity and dignity that fill the heartland, Palin said, They are the ones that do some of the hardest work in America .who grow our food, run our factories and fight our wars. In a clear swing at Michelle Obama, she added, They love their country, in good times and bad, and theyre always proud of America. Highlighting her executive experience as governor of the largest state in the union, Palin touted a litany of reforms and achievements ranging from selling the state jet on Ebay to driving herself to work; suspending the state fuel tax to vetoing nearly half a billion dollars in wasteful spending; and limiting the influence of oil industry lobbyist while beginning construction on a nearly forty billion natural gas pipeline to provide critical resources for Americas energy needs. In one of the many displays of her occasionally self-deprecating but often biting sense of humor, Palin said that in addition to her husband being a lifelong commercial fisherman; production operator in the oil industry on Alaskas North Slop; member of the United Steel Workers and world champion snow machine racer, he was also an ancestral Yupik Eskimo; all of which makes for quite a package. From being villainized as a Pentecostal book burner; condemned as a neglectful and hypocritical parent to dismissed as an opportunistic and vacuous beauty queen, the days since her announcement as Senator John McCains running mate have been an intense and blistering baptism by fire for Palin. Betraying no subsequent blemishes on her picturesque beauty, the beauty queen-cum-governor-cum-vice presidential nominee comported herself last night with a grace and ease eagerly sought by pageant contestants and deeply envied by politicians. In the end she left no doubt of her worthiness of her latest title. Clearly John McCain saw that beyond her beauty queen appeal Sarah Palin could readily answer the question of her ultimate qualification for the title of his running mate; her substance and character. There she is, faithful readers; Miss Republican 2008. And what a champion she is! Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and the preliminaries quickly give way to the breathtaking finals with the winners being crowned on November 4th!