- Associated Press - Saturday, November 13, 2010

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (AP) - “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” portrays the show’s heroine as an adventure-loving wife and mother enjoying a whirlwind of activities amid spectacular settings in her home state. There are no overt clues to her future political ambitions.

However, throughout the first episode of the eight-part TLC documentary series beginning Sunday, Palin’s outdoorsy image against the stunning scenery often plays nicely with her familiar political message.

One telling scene shows Palin and members of her family fishing near a bear and two frolicking cubs. Cut to the Tea Party darling and her self-sufficiency speech. For months, Palin has referred to strong Republican female candidates as “mama grizzlies.”

“I love watching these mama bears,” Palin tells the TLC camera. “They’ve got a nature, yeah, that humankind could learn from. She’s trying to show her cubs, ‘Nobody’s gonna do it for ya. You get out there and do it yourself, guys.’”

Translation: Stop relying on government.

That scene and others are sure to suggest to some viewers that the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee is positioning herself for a 2012 presidential run.

There are other messages that seem to conflict with those ambitions, though. Palin talks about her love of wild Alaska, offering in one well-known homily, “A poor day of fishing beats even a great day at work.”

In a promo for the show with a montage of outdoor scenes, she says, “I’d rather be doing this than in some stuffy old political office” and “I’d rather be out here being free.”

Then come the snippets that easily could fill in as campaign slogans, particularly with Palin’s very political tweets, Facebook postings and other media forums. Her Alaska landscapes also loom larger than life.

“What all this suggests is that she’s crafting her lifestyle and her biography as typifying a person who’s independent, rugged, resilient, in touch with nature and has learned life lessons that she can bring into governance if she moves back into governance,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a University of Pennsylvania communications professor who studies political rhetoric.

“It also could be life lessons to get to lead a better life in the rugged frontiers,” Jamieson said. “They have to have that duo message or this will read as if it’s a political ad.”

In a scene outside the family’s Wasilla home, viewers see the 14-foot-high fence the Palins erected when author Joe McGinniss moved next door to work on a book about Palin.

“By the way, I thought that was a good example,” Palin says on TLC. “What we just did, others could look and say, ‘Oh, this is what we need to do to secure our nation’s border.’”

The intent of the series is not clear _ is she merely showing off a state she truly loves with off-the-cuff remarks, or are these the opinions of the paid Fox News consultant subtly laying the groundwork for a presidential bid?

Of course, with a production of this magnitude, money also could be a powerful motivation.

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