In the three years since being tapped as the Republican nominee for vice president, Sarah Palin has written a bestselling book, starred in a reality show and made us wonder if she's going to run for president in '12. Now she's the subject of "Sarah Palin: You Betcha!," a documentary by sensationalist filmmaker Nick Broomfield, who previously investigated the conspiracy theory that Courtney Love murdered her husband Kurt Cobain ("Kurt & Courtney") and profiled serial killer Aileen Wuornos (the woman Charlize Theron played in "Monster," winning a Best Actress Oscar) in two different films. Palin loves the limelight, and Broomfield loves notorious figures. It's amazing he hasn't made a movie about her already.
Unable to get Palin to agree to an interview for his documentary, Broomfield (who co-directed with Joan Churchill) traveled to Wasilla, Alaska, to see if he could dig up some dirt on her past, and, not surprisingly, he was mostly only able to talk to people who don't like Palin. "You Betcha!" doesn't expose much new about the former Alaska governor, but the film (which premiered in Toronto) did serve up these five fun morsels, although we'd advise you to take some of them with a huge grain of salt considering who's making the accusations:
1. Sarah Palin's parents seem pretty sweet. Even Palin's critics admit she's incredibly charismatic in person, and it's clear that she got that from her parents, Chuck and Sally Heath. Amazingly, they agreed to talk to Broomfield, and they come across as kindly, down-to-earth sorts. "You Betcha!" interviews people who say the Heaths are a lot meaner behind closed doors, but if that's the case they're very good at being folksy and likable when the cameras roll.
2. Broomfield had to go to Egypt to find a Palin childhood friend who'd talk to him. Apparently Palin's Wasilla chums wouldn't talk to Broomfield, but he was able to track down Yvonne Bashelier, a Navy veteran who is now living in Egypt with her husband and son. She and Palin were on the same high school basketball team that won the state championship. Bashelier says that she was shunned by Palin's clique because she wasn't part of Palin's church, which apparently was a big deal back in her hometown. Bashelier doesn't say much to Broomfield, but she seems very happy to be far away from Wasilla.
3. Palin's campaign operatives have been covering for her lack of preparation for a while. Palin had trouble in 2008 during the vice presidential debate and in interviews with the likes of Katie Couric, looking unprepared or uneducated on the issues. But according to John Bitney, a former legislative director and campaign adviser to Palin, that was a problem she had when running for governor as well. In fact, says Bitney, her people decided to camouflage her lack of experience by letting her older, more seasoned opponents bicker during a televised debate and then have her say a rehearsed line, "You know, you guys, we owe Alaskans a better discourse than this." It was seen as a defining moment in her political career that helped cement her standing and win her the election. (In fact, the soundbite is even included in "The Undefeated," the pro-Palin documentary that came out in July.) All orchestrated, says Bitney.
4. Levi Johnston won't let you interview him for less than $20,000. Broomfield tries to arrange an interview with Johnston, but when he gets Tank Jones, Levi's bodyguard and manager, on the phone, Tank informs him that Levi won't do interviews without getting paid. Broomfield offers $500. Tank laughs that off, saying that Levi's most recent interview netted him $20,000, although he doesn't say with whom. $20,000 might be more than the entire budget on "You Betcha!"
5. Nick Broomfield won't touch the Trig "controversy." For all the scandals surrounding Palin, including Troopergate and her supposed lavish shopping habits during the '08 campaign, the one piece of gossip that Broomfield ignores is the most shocking: the whispers that Trig is actually not Palin's son but is instead her daughter Bristol's. Sure, the charge has been discredited by outlets like Salon, but we're surprised that Broomfield didn't bring it up anyway. It's the sort of thing you'd expect Broomfield to do, like confronting Palin at her own event, which he does. Perhaps the most shocking thing we learn in "You Betcha!" is that the infamous muckraking filmmaker may be mellowing in his old age.