Anne Kilkenny, a resident of Wasilla, Alaska, who says she has known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin since childhood, wrote in a widely circulated email that Palin is known in the state as “Sarah Barracuda” because of her “unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness.”

That description seems to fit with revelations that Palin, John McCain’s vice presidential running mate, has unsavory ties with Alaska’s Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, who is under indictment on eight counts of bribery stemming from his corrupt ties with Veco, an oil-field equipment corporation.

The Washington Post reports that Palin served as director of Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc., a political action committee that raised vast cash contributions from corporations, most notably Big Oil, to bankroll campaigns of Republican politicians who dominate Alaska.

Stevens endorsed Palin for governor and made generous contributions to her campaign. Videos of Palin with Stevens at news conferences were on her gubernatorial web site. But those videos were removed the instant McCain named her his running mate.

Her links to Stevens also include her dealings with him in securing $27 million in federal earmarks for Wasilla, population 6,700, when she was mayor of the town. Wasilla had the largest per capita earmarks of any jurisdiction in the nation.

A member of the National Rifle Association, Palin pushed through a $400,000 appropriation to promote the shooting of wolves and bears from low-flying airplanes soon after taking office as governor. Wildlife advocates condemn aerial shooting as a “blood sport.” Her administration offered a $150 bounty to any hunter who turned in the left foreleg of a wolf, until the courts ruled it depraved cruelty. This year, state predator control officers killed a female wolf and her mate and then dragged 14 newborn wolf cubs from their den and shot them in the head at close range.

In an op ed piece in the Seattle Times, Sept. 7, Rick Steiner, professor of marine conservation at the University of Alaska, said McCain “has shown a spectacular, even dangerous lack of judgement,” in choosing Palin.

Alaska is “ground zero” in the global warming crisis, Steiner wrote. “Although in the past two years, Arctic summer sea ice shrunk to the lowest levels ever recorded, Palin apparently does not believe it is human-induced or cause for alarm.”

Among the first casualties are polar bears that drown as they attempt to swim across vast stretches of open sea once thick with pack ice. Yet Palin filed suit against the Bush administration over the listing of polar bears as threatened. She cited a “comprehensive scientific review” which she refused to release, which supposedly found polar bears not at risk. When the review leaked out it showed the opposite — that Alaska scientists agree that the polar bear “is in serious trouble because of global warming and loss of their sea ice habitat and that they could be gone from Alaska by 2050,” Steiner wrote.

Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, confirmed Steiner’s warning. “Palin is just falling down on the job,” he said in a phone interview. “Her job is to protect her state and her people. If the Arctic melt continues at the current rate, polar bears will disappear from Alaska much earlier than 2050. Instead of asking the federal government to solve this crisis, she suppressed the study. At the end of the day, all global warming deniers must suppress the scientific evidence and that is exactly what Governor Palin did. Her ‘pro-life’ position seems to end where animal life begins.”

Palin aggressively opposed a clean water initiative on Alaska’s August ballot aimed at protecting the huge Bristol Bay salmon fishery. It was opposed by mining interests that are now racing to build the Pebble gold and silver mine that could pour millions of gallons of cyanide poison into the streams that flow into Bristol Bay while destroying salmon spawning grounds.

Palin favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in coastal waters of Alaska and other U.S. shores. She also refuses to push Exxon to pay Alaska for the unanticipated long-term damages inflicted by the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989. Shortly before Palin took office, Alaska presented Exxon with a demand that the company pay $92 million for these cleanup costs, “but her administration has since not pressed the issue or taken Exxon to court to collect the money. Meanwhile, Exxon reaps record profits from Alaska,” Steiner wrote.