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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Palin’s Geography Lesson

In her interview with Katie Couric, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin again points to her state’s proximity to Russia as evidence of her national security cred. She

Elisa Mueller
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Sep 26, 2008

In her interview with Katie Couric, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin again points to her state’s proximity to Russia as evidence of her national security cred. She offers, “As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border.”

But a glance at a globe shows how misdirected this claim is. No flight from Moscow to Washington would go anywhere near Alaska — they fly over the Atlantic. Take a look at Delta’s flight routes to Moscow. Even flights from San Francisco go over the Atlantic:

To confirm, I plugged some numbers into MapCrow. Sure enough, the transatlantic route from Washington to Moscow is just 4,857 miles. A flight from Washington to Provideniya, Siberia (the closest Russian city to Alaska) is 4,007 miles — and then it’s an additional 3,973 miles to Moscow.

So the Palin route is nearly twice as long as the logical route.

And Palin’s claim that you can see Russia from Alaska is dubious. On a clear day, you can see one sparsely populated Russian island from one sparsely populated Alaskan island.

But it’s OK if her geography’s a little weak — Laura Bush says the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee is a quick study.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.

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