Last night, Sarah Palin surprised nobody when she announced that she's not running for President. With her bright shiny star fading and Michele Bachmann tied up in the Republican Presidential primary, it will probably be awhile before it's clear who will fill the upcoming Scary But Engrossing Republican Lady Vacuum Sarah's leaving in her wake. But why should we have to wait?

We thought it might be a good idea to speed up the process by putting female Tea Party favorites through the same vigorous vetting process John McCain used on Sarah Palin in 2008 and what the conservative establishment seems to use on all Republican women; one that judges women by looks, talent, ability to hold a gun, disdain for fancy elites with higher education, Mama Grizzliness, and willingness to say whatever it takes to whip Tea Partiers into a star-spangled frenzy.


So, without further ado, your future Fox News soundbytes, all competing for the space Palin seems on the cusp of vacating. Who will come out on top is up to you.

Now, let's crown the next Miss Real America.


Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley was elected governor of South Carolina last year. At 39, Nikki Haley is the youngest governor in the US.
Looks: A little bit like Angie Harmon, from certain angles.

Talent: Helped her mother turn her clothing business, Exotica International (apparently Haley's mother never saw the 1994 film of the same title, which chronicles the lives of fictional Canadian strippers), into a multi-million dollar enterprise.


Scholastic Aptitude: Has a degree in accounting from Clemson University.

Mama Grizzliness: She was endorsed by both Sarah Palin and Jenny Sanford, who some of you may recall as the woman who was left behind during a certain famous Appalachian Trail hiking expedition. Has two children of her own.

Guns/God/Gays/Gestation: Haley was born and raised a Sikh (her parents are Indian immigrants) but converted to Christianity as an adult. Her husband was adopted, so she believes that, ergo, no woman should ever be allowed to have an abortion under any circumstances. Her positions on gay marriage and gun control are right in line with the Tea Party platform.


Interview Competition:On a female reporter who wrote a story on how Haley and some state government officials spent $127,000 on a lavish European trip while preaching financial restraint, Haley said:

God bless that little girl at the Post and Courier.

Haley later apologized.

Weaknesses: Her name rhymes with "Tricky," and some bloggers have taken to calling her "Trikki Nikki."


Verdict: Haley isn't as prone to verbal gaffes as Palin, but she is prone to fibbing.

Martha Roby

Roby's a freshman Congresswoman representing Alabama's 2nd district. At only 35 years old, Martha Roby has made a name for herself in a short period of time. She was elected to the Birmingham City Council just two years after she graduated from law school in 2001.


Looks: Lacks the giant reflective eyes the Fox News set seems to prefer, but can really work a side part.

Talent: Musically inclined.

Scholastic Aptitude: Received a music degree from NYU, and later went to law school in Alabama.


Mama Grizzliness: Is married with two children, Margaret and George. Neither of those names sound like they were originally made up to be dog-names, so this is a negative.

Guns/God/Gays/Gestation: She was endorsed by gun-related associations and used to sit on the board of Sav-A-Life Montgomery, a religious pro-life organization.

Interview Competition:

Several business owners talked to me about the number of jobs they have cut to pay for regulation compliance costs. One employer revealed the number of stores he is closing in order to meet the terms of the government health care law. Farmers explained the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) strict dust regulations were driving up their operating costs. It is increasingly evident that employers are growing more frustrated with excessive regulations in this struggling economy.


Regulations are terrible. Just ask the women who died during the Triangle Shirtwaist fire.

Weaknesses: Roby is more of the old-school Republican ilk that Palin archetypes are starting to dispatch. During the 2010 election, Roby defeated a well known Tea Party activist in the Republican primary. She's not into sexy enough topics for far-righters, as she focuses more on fiscal policy and less on what people may or may not be doing with their genitals, although her brilliant idea to limit unemployment benefits to six months might intrigue people who hate poor people.

Verdict: Maybe the next Susan Collins. Probably not the next Palin.


Renee Ellmers

Ellmers is a 47-year-old freshman Congresswoman from North Carolina's second district. In 2010, she defeated seven-term Democratic incumbant Bob Etheridge.

Looks: Can really work a pantsuit. Could easily play a realtor or Honda saleswoman in a Law & Order episode.


Talent: Wound-repair. Spent a portion of her nursing career as clinical director of the Trinity Wound Care Center in Dunn, North Carolina.

Scholastic Aptitude: Paid her way through college. Graduated with a nursing degree and began career working in health care.

Mama Grizzliness: Hates the Affordable Care Act so much that it motivated her to leave her job as a nurse and enter politics. Married, with one son.


Guns/God/Gays/Gestation: Ellmers is a "tea party favorite," which means she's in favor of gun toting, baby toting, and God toting. But uh-oh. Ellmers calls a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage in North Carolina "too aggressive."

Interview Competition: For this portion of the competition, Ellmers will be presenting this very racist/xenophobic 2010 campaign ad put together by her team about the proposed mosque/Muslim prayer center in lower Manhattan (the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque").

Weaknesses: Only has one child. Sarah Palin has five. Ergo, Ellmers is an underachiever.


Verdict: What she lacks in gay-hating, she more than makes up for in Muslim-related fear mongering. And it makes sense! After all, who would be more impacted by a religious structure in New York City than people in North Carolina's second district?

Kristi Noem

Bio:Kristi Noem, now age 39, was elected to represent South Dakota's 6th district in 2006. After she was elected to her second term in 2008, she was made Assistant Majority Leader in the South Dakota House of Representatives. In 2010, she beat out incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin to win a seat in the US House.


Looks: Confusing hairstyle aside, Noem's got camera-ready good looks conservatives love. She spent a portion of her youth competing in (and winning) various pageants, including rodeo queen competitions and something called South Dakota Snow Queen.

Talent: As mentioned above, she's experienced in Rodeo Queenery, which requires advanced horsemanship skills. She and her husband also run a working ranch.

Scholastic Aptitude: Noem never finished college, marrying and dropping out at age 22 in order to tend to her family's ranch when her father died. She occasionally takes night and correspondence courses in political science at South Dakota State University. She once sponsored a bill that would lower the age South Dakotans are allowed to drop out of school to 16.


Mama Grizzliness: Noem and her husband have three children, the Palinesquely named Kassidy, Kennedy, and Booker. She's often been compared to Sarah Palin due to her pageant history, good looks, youth, and ideology.

Guns/God/Gays/Gestation: On the record wanting to fire Nancy Pelosi due to the fact that she doesn't support second amendment rights. She's a self identified Evangelical Christian, which means she's got Jesus on speed dial and can't wait to tell you all about it. She's anti-gay marriage and just about as anti-choice as they come.

Interview Competition: In a heated race against Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (who some called the "Democrats' Mama Grizzly") in 2010, she said,

I'd rather have a real South Dakotan who has lived in this state and made her living here instead of someone with a fancy East Coast law degree any day.


She's right. School is pretty fancy.

Weaknesses: Her hometown's population is 666. She also might be a little too real, as she's the 10th least-wealthy member currently serving in Congress. She'll need serious outside financial backing to do any rainmaking.

Verdict: Noem's the most Palinesque out of the field, but will the Republican establishment accept a non-college graduate who isn't wealthy?


Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Bio: McMorris-Rodgers is the fourth highest ranking Republican currently serving in the House of Representatives. She represents Washington's 5th Congressional district.


Looks: Perky brunette with a hairstyle that's sometimes elaborately moussed.

Talent: Standing behind John Boehner in pictures, serving as an unofficial mentor to incoming female Republican legislators.

Scholastic Aptitude: Graduated with a pre-law degree; now holds her Executive MBA.


Mama Grizzliness: She descended from people who traveled the Oregon trail (and did not die of dysentary or experience oxen-death during an unsuccessful river fording attempt). She has given birth twice while in office — in 2007, she and her husband welcomed a son who has Down Syndrome. Last December, she gave birth to a baby girl without any genetic issues.

Guns/God/Gays/Gestation: Party-line Republican.

Interview Competition:

Like you, I believe it is important that we protect our wildlife and the environment. However, these efforts should not come at the expense of grown [sic] and development.


Weaknesses: Works on a bipartisan women's caucus that pushes for pay equity, more strict child support enforcement, women's health, and protecting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Making victims pay for their own rape kits, she's not.

Verdict: She may be Miss Congeniality, but McMorris Rodgers is no Palin.


Star Parker

Parker is well-known and rabidly adored among the Michelle Malkin whine/hate everything set. A former welfare recipient who used to have all kinds of abortions before she found Jesus, she now preaches personal responsibility and generally says horrible and terrifying things about poor people and women. She ran for Congress in a heavily Democratic California district in 2010 and lost, but, given her track record, it's safe to assume that's not the last we'll hear from her.

Looks: Her photogenic face combined with the fact that she's black has prompted some conservatives to compare her to Barack Obama. Except she's insane.


Talent: Writing books with offensive titles. Two examples: Pimps, Whores, and Welfare Brats: From Welfare Cheat to Conservative Messenger (Rush Limbaugh wrote the intro for that one) and Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can Do About It. She's currently working on a book called How the Poor Get Rich.

Scholastic Aptitude: Degree in Marketing

Mama Grizzliness: Prone to inflammatory statements. Believes that the free market will cure racism and systemic poverty.


Guns/God/Gays/Gestation: Parker used to work for an anti-choice organization and doesn't believe that contraceptives should be legal.

Interview Competition:

I used abortion as birth control until after my fourth abortion…abortion destroys self-worth and dignity.


Weaknesses: Hasn't actually won any elections.

Verdict: She doesn't like gays, doesn't believe in evolution, and seems to really hope women just wise up and listen to what men tell them to do. She's Rush Limbaugh's one black friend. She's got the same initials as Sarah Palin and is absolutely maddening to watch in a group discussion format.

And there you have it. The lovely women who will be competing to annoy the shit out of you now that it's clear Palin's fifteen minutes years are almost up. Who will it be? The choice is yours, America. Enjoy.