Sarah Palin's first two years as Alaska's governor were a time of milk, honey, and crude, with sky-high oil prices pumping wealth into the state. The second half of her term isn't looking so rosy. The rapid decline of oil prices has left the state with a looming budget shortfall of up to $1.5 billion. That could have political repercussions for the former Republican vice presidential hopeful, who must stay visible in the Lower 48 if she's to have a hope in a 2012 presidential bid.
"Given these bad times, she's going to have a much more difficult time traveling outside Alaska," said one politics professor. "When times are good, people will let their governor roam. In bad times, citizens expect their governor to stay home and work." Palin bills herself as a fiscal conservative, and has called for reducing state spending by $268 million, but lawmakers say her proposal won't actually cut spending or reduce the deficit at all.