Something like 24 hours, if that, before rumors about VP candidate Sarah Palin's allegedly faked pregnancy started sweeping across the internet. So far none of the mainstream media seem to be touching it, but unless some substantive evidence comes up to disprove the story, it can't be long before it surfaces.
Supposedly the five-month old baby born with Down Syndrome actually belongs to her teenage daughter, who disappeared from public view during the final five months during Governor Sarah's alleged pregnancy, and photos taken of the governor when she would have been seven months pregnant, seem to reveal little or no evidence of a baby bulge.
There is more supporting evidence (or insinuation, if you prefer): here's just a couple of the thousands of blog entries that have already popped up on the subject: Fame Crawler and the Daily Kos.
What are the chances of it being true, and if so, what effect is it likely to have on the campaign? Well, if it's not true, it should be fairly easy to put paid to the rumors with DNA evidence and/or testimony from the attending physician, though the Palin campaign might shrink from dignifying the allegations by responding to them at all. If there is anything to it, well, it might or might not derail her campaign. Think, for example, of all the cocaine-snorting charges hurled at George Bush during the 2000 election: while they provided further ammunition for Bush-haters, they didn't seem to deter his fans to any great degree.
And while Palin could be attacked on family-values and hypocrisy grounds - if she can't even keep her 16-year-old daughter on the straight and narrow, where does she come off trying to lay down fundamentalist anti-abortion policy for every woman in the land? - she could also win some sympathy votes. Most families at one time or another have had some sort of secret scandal, and while the Palin story, should it be true, is a bit more Southern, er, Northern Gothic than most, quite a few parents might see an element of nobility in a mother going to such lengths to protect her daughter's reputation and future. If, on the other hand, it can be spun as Governor Palin's attempt to protect her own reputation and future... Well, obviously it can go either way. In any event, the "official" campaign of 2008 seems to be getting off the sort of whiz-bang start that may not have been seen since the days of "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa? Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!" (Grover Cleveland, 1884). Good news for the media and American Government teachers trying to elicit interest from bored teenagers; maybe not so good for those hoping for a sober and dignified discussion of the issues. Either way, I suspect it's going to be the most interesting election we've had in a long time.