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Sen. John McCain's selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate is like The Jerry Springer Show at its smarmiest.

Her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant.

The state legislature is investigating her for firing a state official who refused to dismiss Palin's ex-brother-in-law from his job as a state trooper after a nasty divorce.

Her mother-in-law says, "I'm not sure what she brings to the ticket other than she's a woman and a conservative."

Talk about a catalogue of dysfunction. Shouldn't we be calling on Steve?

This mess is just what we should have expected from McCain, who so desperately needed to change the subject and shore up his frayed relationship with the ultraconservative, anti-abortion base of his party that he overlooked parts of Palin's background. Talk about a leap of unjustified faith.

For all we—or McCain—know, Palin, still less than two years into her first term as Alaska's chief executive, is a natural-born leader whose charisma rivals Barack Obama's. But that's the trouble—we just don't know much about her and neither does McCain.

What we do know is not reassuring. She is a former beauty queen who grew up hunting, fishing and playing basketball and got the nickname " Sarah Barracuda" for her intensity on the court. A staunch Christian conservative, she supports teaching creationism in the schools and changing her state's constitution to ban same-sex marriages. Before becoming governor, she was mayor of a town with less than 10,000 people.

She has absolutely no experience in foreign affairs. Compared to Obama's pick, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate's committee on foreign relations, she is a total neophyte.

None of us—including McCain—knows what other surprises about her may come to light as the media delve into her background and grill her about the issues on the campaign trail. My guess is that they'll find something sufficiently alarming to make McCain think twice and dump Palin from the ticket, Thomas Eagleton-style. The excuse will be that she needs to spend more time with her family.