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Portugal. The Man vs. Sarah Palin for Vice President

Experimental indie-rock quartet Portugal. The Man — which alternates rocking hard, bluesy, and soulful, like an unhinged Zeppelin, and getting mellow and chamber-poppy with strings, brass, and organs — is led by singer-guitarist and chief songwriter John Gourley, who hails from Wasilla, a small town in southeastern Alaska not far from Anchorage. Hmm . . . Who else raised in Wasilla do we know? Oh, right, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin!

Naturally, we wondered who would make a better vice president — Palin or P.TM (collectively). The latter would already seem to have an edge because there's a foreign country in its name, while the former didn't even obtain her first passport until last year. Still, we decided to examine their positions on issues of our day — via Palin's remarks during the campaign and her time as governor, and via the lyrics on Portugal. The Man's new album, Censored Colors — to determine which proud Wasillan is more suited to be a "heartbeat away from the presidency."


Portugal. The Man: "I don't remember presidents or what they did/But I remember the wars and just who profited." ("Lay Me Back Down")

Sarah Palin: "Our national leaders are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God's plan."

Our "expert" analysis: Clearly, Portugal. The Man are conspiracy theorists who think the U.S. invaded Iraq solely for the benefit of Halliburton; they probably think the NASA moon landings were faked and that the government is hiding aliens in Area 51, too. Meanwhile, Palin (like the Blues Brothers) thinks American troops are on a "mission from God." What else do you think God wants, according to Palin? Secretary of State Carrot Top?


Portugal. The Man: "Money means a little more and more/ (Yeah we all need it) At least they tell me so." ("Hard Times")

Sarah Palin: "It's got to be a comprehensive, long-term solution found . . . for this problem that America is facing today. As I say, we are getting into crisis mode here."

Our "expert" analysis: Evidently, neither party has a firm grasp on economic principles or ways to deal with economic catastrophes. Portugal. The Man is aware of the significance of financial capital only because someone else informed them of it, and they still seem skeptical of its importance. And though Palin acknowledges the potential for an economic meltdown, she offers no specifics to turn it around, merely stating that some kind of solution must be "found."


Portugal. The Man: "Just limit lies to one per line and share them with all those who listen." ("Sit Back and Dream")

Sarah Palin: "We'll bring that kind of transparency, that responsibility, and accountability back. We're going to bring that back to D.C."

Our "expert" analysis: Portugal. The Man obviously believes that it's not only all right to lie, even if just once, but that you should try to spread that lie to as many people as possible. Sarah Palin, however, appears to be lying about her lying — that she's the one to bring "transparency" to government despite her history of mistruths about the "bridge to nowhere" and "Troopergate." So, which is worse?

Our conclusion: Neither Portugal. The Man nor Sarah Palin is qualified to be vice president of the United States of America. But, as always, we encourage you, the voter, to make up your own mind.

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Michael Alan Goldberg