Researching the Rogue: Selected Entries From the Secret Journal of Joe McGinniss

To research his book The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, author Joe McGinniss spent the summer of 2010 in a house immediately next door to the Palin home in Wasilla, Alaska. The following are excerpts from McGinniss's private diary from this period.

May 23 -- Took possession of the Wasilla house today. There must have been bad blood between the Palins and the previous tenant -- some of it's still on the living room rug.

May 24 -- Todd Palin dropped by to say hi to his new neighbor. You should have seen the look of surprise on his face when I answered the door! I gather he misheard my name as Joe Guinness and was expecting to meet imported Joe Sixpack.

May 27 -- Seemingly overnight, the Palins have erected a huge fence around their property. This temporarily obstructed my view, until I made a few peepholes with some power tools. Drill baby drill!

June 1 -- Sarah Palin called me out on her Facebook page, practically accusing me of being a stalker and pedophile! Is there no depth to which she will not sink? Fortunately I had the chance to air my side on the "Today" show, where I took the high road by saying she'd sicked the Hounds of Hell on me and comparing her to Nazi storm troopers.

June 4 -- Spent the day familiarizing myself with the Wasilla terrain. Turns out the bedroom with the Justin Bieber poster is Sarah's, not Piper's.

June 5 -- I constantly have to ask the Palins to turn the music down. Every night they play the same song over and over at ear-splitting levels. How many times can you listen to "Barracuda?"

June 7 -- The Wasilla Welcome Wagon paid a call today. I can't decide which aspect of this visit was more surprising: The fact that Sarah Palin drove the Wasilla Welcome Wagon; or that she aimed it at my house and then leaped from the vehicle and ran away, sending it crashing through my front door and obliterating my pantry. I called the authorities to complain--they told me Sarah had chosen that moment to resign as Welcome Wagon Lady, half-way through her term.

June 8 -- The Palins challenged me to a hockey game on Lake Lucille today. Foolishly I took this as a friendly gesture. I hurried out to the lake in my skates and pads and nearly drowned. Turns out there's no ice this time of year! I'll bet the Palins knew that the whole time.

June 10 - There have been press reports that Sarah had her breasts enlarged. Sarah went on Glenn Beck's radio show to say that if her bust seems larger, it's because "Joe McGinniss stuffed my bra with surveillance devices." Is she insane? How did she find them so quickly? Beck took the opportunity to endorse the bra as a wholesome accessory for women who love freedom but not too much freedom.

June 11 -- Coming back from the store this afternoon I saw a familiar figure hurrying from my house into the Palins' yard. It was Joe the Plumber -- I recognized his crack as he climbed over the fence. I couldn't imagine what he'd been up to, but when I went inside and ran the kitchen faucet, my dishwasher drenched the room like a water cannon.

June 15 -- In an apparent attempt at rapprochement, the Palins invited me over yesterday for a tea party. Enchanted, I stepped next door anticipating Earl Grey and cucumber sandwiches. Instead, I was nearly lynched by a mob screaming about taxes and limited government. One man shouted about keeping government hands off his Medicare, but couldn't be convinced to keep his hands off my windpipe. Having barely escaped with my life, I have decided to ignore today's invitation to be a fourth at bridge, as I am convinced it will be bridge to nowhere.

June 17 -- Yesterday evening I was indulging in a beloved childhood pursuit: catching fireflies in a jar. Suddenly Sarah was overhead in a helicopter, picking off the lightning bugs one by one with a .30-06. So typical of her to use too much gun! Diving for cover behind the gazebo, I had to admit it was a remarkable display of marksmanship. Subsequent forensic examinations confirmed that each insect was shot between the eyes.

June 19 -- This morning I took a seemingly random stroll along the Palin's fence line, projecting the casual air of a man trying out a new pair of stilts. (I'd borrowed a set from the fellow who plays Uncle Sam at Wasilla's Fourth of July celebration.) From my elevated position I was trying to sneak a glimpse over the fence into my neighbor's yard when suddenly Todd was in my path, sticking out his leg to trip me. Just before I toppled from the vertical to the horizontal, slamming into the ground at a velocity normally attained by only our most daring test pilots, I couldn't help noticing that I could see Russia.

June 27 -- I successfully infiltrated the Palin compound today by dressing as a moose. I enlisted the aid of a local man named Zeb who bears the Palins a grudge -- he once got in an argument with Sarah at a Little League game and she tried to field dress him. With me in front and my confederate bringing up the rear, we crossed into Palin territory, moving with a very satisfactory approximation of the stately gait of the Alces alces. Indeed, our performance may have been too convincing, for as we reached the center of the yard, gun barrels appeared in each window of the house and discharged simultaneously, laying down a withering fusillade that left Zeb and me no choice but to beat a hasty retreat. We did our best to stay in character by imitating the frenzied gallop of a frantic moose, but I fear our cover was blown. An observer in the house would have seen the escaping moose suddenly bifurcate, with the rump preceding the head around the fence to safety. I'm happy to report that I escaped unharmed and my companion suffered only a flesh wound, though unfortunately it was in the fleshy part of his liver.

July 4th -- In anticipation of a quiet Independence Day observance, I purchased some sparklers from a local dealer and thoughtlessly left them on my front porch. I'm certain someone from next door tampered with them. I lit one this evening expecting to enjoy a delightful spray of harmless glittering sparks. Instead, my taper detonated with the same force that must have rocked Indonesia when Krakatoa blew, leaving everything above my abdomen singed and smoking.

July 14 -- The Palins hosted a little dinner party last night in honor of Bristol and Levi's engagement. Sarah even made a short speech. (Note for book: At rallies, Sarah reads speeches off her hand, but in the intimate setting of this casual family dinner she read off the Hamburger Helper hand.) There was a discussion about what song the happy couple should dance to at their wedding, and they quickly settled on "Barracuda." Then they played it. All night.

July 16 -- It was hot today, so I decided to cool off by jumping through my sprinkler. When I turned on the hose, the ice dispenser in my fridge began firing cubes like a Gatling gun. My kitchen is so full of ice it looks like the hold of a swordfish boat. Even now I can hear the Palins and Joe the Plumber sniggering through the fence.

July 20 -- Last night Sarah and Todd had a bitter argument over a Scrabble game. Sarah was insisting that "refudiate" is a real word but Todd wasn't buying it, especially not for a Triple Word score. They both screamed at the top of their lungs, but even with the shotgun microphone I was using I could barely hear them over "Barracuda."

July 28 -- I did some pogo-sticking near the Palins' fence today, which afforded me intermittent glimpses into their den. Here's the amazing thing: I spotted Putin's head in there! It's mounted on the wall, right next to a moose. I guess Alaskan airspace is secure, but it made me pretty uncomfortable. Do they have a similar fate in mind for me?

August 4 -- I realize the Palins are using amplified music as a psychological weapon, in much the same way that Santa Anna had his band play "El Degüello" to torment the occupants of the Alamo. Mustn't let it get to me. Must remain strong. Bar-ra-cu-da. Bar-ra-cu-da. Bar-ra-cu-da.

August 12 -- Had a dream last night in which Sarah Palin literally unleashed the Hounds of Hell on me -- all pit bulls wearing lipstick.

August 17 -- I'm seriously thinking of abandoning the book. Sarah P has told friends she has me in her "crosshairs." When I got home, someone had drawn bull's-eyes on all my pajamas.

August 22 -- I woke up screaming this morning, convinced the Palins had put a horse's head in my bed! It turned out to be the headpiece from my moose costume -- I forgot I was mending the bullet holes last night when I dozed off. Just another indication of the state of my shattered nerves.

August 30 -- I've decided I can't take it any longer. No book is worth this torment! Tonight I tore up my notes and ripped the manuscript to shreds. When I tried to flush the pieces down the toilet, my washing machine overflowed.