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NEW YORK — The selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate hit the United States like an electric storm. To her legions of lipstick-waving fans on the right, Palin is a down-to-earth, God-fearing “hockey mom” whose moose hunting, evangelical faith and even chaotic family life are all evidence that she is a real, typical American.

To her equally frantic detractors on the left — and increasingly in the center — she is a frightening harbinger of a theocratic America, a mafia-style executrix of state business who lies about the connection of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to Iraq, mocks Barack Obama for his opposition to torturing prisoners, and defies subpoenas. Think of her as George W. Bush II, but in designer pumps.

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