Sarah Palin has come a long way from cruising around her native state of Alaska in snowmobiles.

The former U.S. vice presidential candidate has amassed a fortune of at least $12 million since her ill-fated campaign for the White House as John McCain’s running mate in 2008. Palin has raked in the bucks from sales of her best-selling autobiography, “Going Rogue,” a new gig as a commentator for the Fox News Channel, and speaking fees that hover in the $100,000 range per appearance.

Anyone out there think the Alaskan pol is still crazy? Sure – crazy like a fox.

Palin has cannily cultivated an image as the spokeswoman for the ordinary Joes and Janes in America who are fed up of big government, high taxes . . . and anything to do with Barack Obama.

Her mastery of the English language makes George W. Bush look like a professor, and her grasp of facts is often flawed in favor of inflammatory language but her throngs of admirers out there in the American heartland could care less.

Though she waxes lyrical about homespun American values and the hockey moms and dads out there struggling to make ends meet, Palin has certainly acquired a taste for the good life since McCain plucked her from obscurity back in 2008.

Her demands for speaking appearances made big headlines this week when a contract was revealed that clearly spelt out her demands.

Sarah, of course, no longer travels coach class. Whoever wants to host her must provide a private Lear Jet for her comfort, and if that’s not possible, she’ll be requiring two first class tickets, and other travel arrangements for her entourage.

Palin must be accommodated in a suite upon arrival for the duration of her stay, a big gas-guzzling SUV for transport – no wonder why one of her favorite sayings is, “Drill baby, drill!” for oil, the environment be damned – and on the podium for her speeches, bottles of water with “bendable” straws. (No word on if she also requires a pen for jotting notes on her hand to remember what she’s supposed to be talking about.)

“Palin appears to be loving her freedom. She's a star at conservative rallies attacking the Obama administration,” said Andrea Mitchell of NBC News on Thursday morning.

A star she certainly is. But a presidential contender in 2012? Not a hope.

Palin is tracking fourth in a recent opinion poll conducted by CNN for the Republican presidential nomination, behind the likes of 2008 also-rans Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.

Frankly, she does not possess the intelligence or world experience of someone who could lead the most powerful and influential country in the world for five minutes, let alone four years.

Palin herself knows this. Why risk the adoring crowds – and the millions in earnings – to go through a grueling primary process for an office she surely is not qualified for.

She would suffer a massive defeat and her stock would sink greatly, just like what happened to former New York City Mayor and self-styled 9/11 hero Rudy Giuliani when he decided he was fit for the White House back in 2008.

Sarah Inc. will continue to roll into 2012 and beyond. But she must be thinking – Air Force One would be even nicer than a private Lear jet!

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