ANCHORAGE, Alaska--Here at the Peanut Farm restaurant in Anchorage they are eating up Sarah Palin's words with more gusto than the huge steaks they sling.
When they cut away to a shot of little Piper, Palin's 6-year-old, stroking the head of her napping baby brother Trig, people here laughed so hard, the guy at the bar next to me wheezed in his burrito and started crying. That's when Palin was talking about the political power of PTA presidents.
The crowd here at the bar, including her sister Heather, who is in the custody of a CNN crew, are riveted. When she makes a crack about the only difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom being lipstick (same joke she told me a year ago) some women at the bar nodded in agreement. "It's the truth!" another howled.
Having spent much time covering Palin over the past year, she seemed like the longest of long shots. Tonight, though, she's all pitch-perfect timing and delivery. A populist star is born.
UPDATE, 11:13 p.m.: The Peanut Farm has erupted with shouts of "Sarah, Sarah, Sarah!!!" as Palin raises her arms in triumph and her family fills the stage. They're gonna be talking about this one for a long time here. The rapture over Palin, with McCain standing awkwardly by, reminds me of the first time Prince Charles took Lady Di for a walkabout.
UPDATE, 11:16 p.m.: Here at the Peanut Farm my fellow diners are putting their hands over their hearts and singing along with the National Anthem.