Republican whistleblower Sarah Palin surged into politics as Alaska's Joan of Arc, daring to battle corporate interests over oil taxes and a natural gas pipeline. She won both fights and made powerful enemies—but the ethics at the heart of her straight-talking politics sparked a blaze of admiration among voters, the Anchorage Daily News reports.
In her early political years, Palin forced a party chairman and an attorney general to resign over ethics issues. She then strengthened her grassroots base in 2006 by beating an incumbent governor by drawing on friends and neighbors for support. But charges of misguided populism and intellectual simplicity still plague Palin, who now has an ethics scandal of her own—over the firing of a state trooper once married to her sister.