WASHINGTON - Sarah Palin's attempts to shake the hillbilly tag tied to her by wary Republicans are being hamstrung by the sordid revelations of her daughter's ex-boyfriend and her choice of an anti-gay lawyer as Alaska's attorney general.
Far from the corridors of power on Capitol Hill, Alaskans are consumed with the woman who is playing coy about her aspirations to run for president in three years amid family and political theatrics that would do Jerry Springer proud.
Palin has recently endured the teen father of her first grandchild telling family secrets to Tyra Banks and the arrest and indictment of her sister-in-law on break-and-enter charges.
Now she's confronted with a political storm: Wayne Anthony Ross, her choice for attorney general, has an alleged fondness for rape jokes and doesn't like homosexuals.
Ross, who once described gay people as "immoral degenerates," was quizzed this week about how he would view cases involving homosexuality as the state's top legislator.
"Let me give you an analogy - I hate lima beans," Ross told a legislative hearing into his nomination.
"I've never liked lima beans. But if I was hired to represent the United Vegetable Growers, would you ask me if I liked lima beans? No. If I disliked lima beans? No. Because my job is to represent the United Vegetable Growers."
A letter from Leah Burton, a lobbyist on children's issues and domestic violence, has caused an uproar, hogging headlines and infuriating some of Alaska's most outspoken bloggers, who play a critical role in reporting politics in the remote and far-flung state.
Burton alleges that in 1991, she heard Ross say at a public meeting that domestic violence "wouldn't be an issue if women would learn to keep their mouth shut."
At the hearing, Ross denied uttering that statement, and also denied making the suggestion in the same conversation that it was acceptable for a man to rape his wife.
"That's a bunch of crap," Ross told the hearing.
On Tuesday, there was more bad news as the Huffington Post obtained a 1991 column written by Ross in defence of a statue of a KKK figure as an expression of free speech on a college campus.
Rumours were swirling in Alaska on Tuesday that Palin, who was John McCain's vice-presidential running mate in last year's U.S. election, would soon withdraw Ross's name from consideration to save face.
A vote on Ross's nomination was scheduled to be held on Thursday.
The damning headlines come just as Levi Johnston, the strapping teen who stood holding a pregnant Bristol Palin's hand at various campaign events last fall, ends a round of high-profile television interviews that angered the woman once poised to become his mother-in-law.
He told Banks he lived in the governor's mansion in Wasilla for two months during Bristol Palin's pregnancy.
Johnston also said he was quite certain the governor, a proponent of abstinence-only sex education in schools, was aware the teen couple had been sexually active.
In the aftermath of his interviews, Palin issued a statement calling Johnston a liar and suggested he didn't care about his infant son, Tripp - a firebomb that only served to reignite the story for a few more news cycles.
On Monday, the governor's family troubles continued as Diana Palin, half-sister of "First Dude" Todd Palin, was indicted on burglary, theft and trespass charges for three break-ins at a home in Wasilla.
The burglar was apprehended by the homeowner as she headed to the cabinet from where his stash of cash kept mysteriously disappearing. The suspect's four-year-old daughter walked into the home as she was being detained.
Despite the drama, Palin remains the darling of the Republicans' social conservative base. There's still an active and well-organized "Palin in 2012" movement among the party's social conservatives, even as Alaska Republicans gripe that she's missing in action in her own state.
Many leaders in the Republican-dominated Alaska legislature are publicly complaining about the Palin administration's failure to support even its own bills.
Bill Stoltze has been pushing a bill requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions. The measure is something Palin has consistently said is on high priority for the current legislative session.
But when the bill came before Stoltze's committee, no one from the administration was there to support it or answer questions.
"I can't explain their not even being in the room; that baffles me," Stoltze said recently. "This is supposedly a top administration priority."