John McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate stirred sharp opposition from women’s organizations, the labor movement, environmental groups and others. Many see it as plunging the McCain campaign further into the hands of the ultra-right.

Lynette Clark, chairman of the far-right secessionist Alaska Independence Party told ABC News that Palin and her husband were members of the AIP in the 1990s and attended the AIP’s 1994 convention. State election officials say she retained her Republican Party registration. However her husband was registered as an AIP member from 1995 to 2002, except for a few months when he registered as “undeclared.” The McCain campaign admits she attended the group’s 2000 convention. This year, she recorded a message welcoming AIP members to their convention in Fairbanks, praising the party for its “role in Alaska politics.”

The AIP’s founder, Joe Vogler, boasted, “I am an Alaskan not an American. I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.”

“The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government,” Vogler said in 1991. “And I won’t be buried under their damn flag.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has linked the AIP to the “League of the South,” a white supremacist outfit that seeks to outlaw interracial marriage and “reestablish the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Celtic people and their institutions.” AIP attended the “First North American Secessionist Convention” in 2007 in Vermont and a second convention of the group this year in Tennessee.

Los Angeles writer Larry Madill asks at the Daily Kos political blog, “Why after the AIP publicly associated itself with known white supremacist organizations did Sarah Palin record the greetings for AIP’s convention” this year?

McCain apparently believed that naming Palin would attract women who supported Hillary Clinton. But women’s organizations were sharply critical. Nancy Keenan, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League and Pro-Choice America, said the McCain-Palin ticket consists of “two anti-choice extremists who will push a rigid, anti-choice agenda. She’s opposed to abortions even in cases of rape and incest.”

Praising Democrat Barack Obama’s unequivocal defense of women’s reproductive rights, Keenan urged an all-out campaign “to reach hundreds of thousands of independent and Republican pro-choice women” to win their votes for Obama.

Palin is no better on energy and the environment, said Ivan Frishberg, political director of Environment America. “Big Oil extended its reach into McCain’s campaign” with his selection of Palin, Frishberg said in a phone interview.

“Palin has sided with Big Oil over endangered species and has promoted drilling off of America’s coasts and in Alaska’s wilderness,” Frishberg said. “She would have no problems filling Dick Cheney’s shoes with advocacy for Big Oil, dismissal of alternative energy sources and the stunning admission that she does not believe global warming is man-made” even though it is melting the permafrost, glaciers and sea ice in her own state.

The McCain campaign claims Palin supports renewable energy, Frishberg said. When the group researched her background they found she’s closely linked with Big Oil and “a record of opposition to renewable energy.”

Frishberg noted that she opposed designating the polar bear a threatened species despite overwhelming evidence it is in danger, and although the grizzly bear is an endangered species, she flaunts a grizzly bear rug in her office.

Palin’s husband, Todd Palin, works for British Petroleum, one of the largest oil producers in Alaska’s North Slope. When she was campaigning for governor, he took a leave, but now he is back with BP.

Sarah Palin says her husband is simply a “blue collar” employee and union member. But Alaskan news media reported he has attended meetings with legislators where Palin’s drive to re-write Alaska’s petroleum tax was discussed as well as her push for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska. She rammed through a $500 million taxpayer subsidy for the construction of the pipeline.

Steelworkers President Leo Gerard said in a statement that Todd Palin’s membership in the USW “does not automatically qualify her for an on-the-job training program to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.” And her husband’s union membership, Gerard added, “does nothing to absolve Sen. McCain of his long history of anti-union sentiment and anti-worker actions” including opposition to workers’ collective bargaining rights, privatization of Social Security and Medicare and support for job-destroying trade deals like NAFTA.

David Lawrence, a 25-year Anchorage resident active in the health care movement, said his first reaction to the Palin nomination was that the Republicans “must be desperate.” He added, “Palin is ignorant of national, international and even Alaska state issues.” Palin favors privatizing public education along with Social Security and Medicare, he said.

Mayor of a town of less than 7,000, she ran for governor on a promise of transparency and openness, Lawrence said. “But she is notorious for breaking appointments and speaking engagements. She has walled herself off from everyone except a narrow little clique that surrounds her.”

Showing a similar trend prominent in the far-right Bush administration, Palin is under investigation by the Alaska legislature for abuse of power stemming from her firing of Alaska’s Public Safety Commissioner. He had refused her order to terminate a state trooper who was, formerly, her brother-in-law, using her office to inflict personal revenge.