Sarah Palin has returned to Alaska following her whirlwind 68-day exposure to the national political scene, but the controversy over her vice-presidential candidacy shows no sign of abating.
As the governor of Alaska stepped off a plane onto icy tarmac in Anchorage on Wednesday night, she faced fresh allegations over her behaviour on the campaign trail and renewed attacks about her lack of readiness for the White House. Much of the attacks were clearly emerging from disgruntled aides within the campaign of the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain.
The most piercing allegations concerned Palin's ignorance of foreign affairs, which were depicted to be even more extreme than already thought; and her spend-thrift actions in kitting herself and her family out with a wardrobe fit to appear before television cameras.
Fox News, a broadcast channel that until election day had been generally flattering in its coverage of the "Palin phenomenon", reported that aides were astonished when they learned she was unaware that Africa was not a country but a whole continent. She was also said to be unable to name the three states that belong to the North American Free Trade Agreement: the US, Mexico and Canada.
Unnamed McCain advisers, their ire no longer constrained by campaign discipline, complained that the Alaskan governor had been unco-operative. The New York Times reported the McCain circle was angry about her independent decision to talk directly to the French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, which then turned out to be a prank from a Canadian radio station.
She was also said to have resisted offers of help preparing for interviews with Katie Couric, which also proved to be highly damaging.
The most colourful new information concerned Palin's spending spree on the campaign trail. Newsweek reported that she ended up splurging far more than the $150,000 that was already known about; with up to $40,000 being lavished on her husband Todd.
Palin returns to Alaska amid criticism from disgruntled McCain aides
A wealthy donor who had offered to foot the bill was shocked when he got the bill from such top-notch addresses as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, according to Newsweek. In a phrase that is likely to go down in US electoral folklore, one McCain aide characterized the episode to the magazine as: "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast."
Palin refused to address the bombardment of accusations directed at her. She said: "If they're an unnamed source, that says it all. I won't comment on anyone's gossip based on anonymous sources. That's kind of a small of a bitter type of person who anonymously would charge that I didn't know an answer to a question. So until I know who's talking about it, I won't have a comment on a false allegation."
She now faces a difficult few months rebuilding relations in Alaska, and fending off investigations against her over the so-called Troopergate affair in which she has been found guilty of breaching ethics guidelines in a dispute over the employment by the state of her former brother-in-law.