Elisabeth Meinecke
Sarah Palin is one of the most media-saturated figures today, as filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon of the new film “The Undefeated” points out. Yet, watching the film, the details about the ex-governor that have remained unknown to the ‘lower 48’ will stun the viewer.

The film itself has an interesting origin. The Palin team approached Bannon after the 2010 election about a film, but he wasn’t interested in the short video project they mentioned. Bannon decided to do a film that the Palin team had no editorial control over, although they did help him gain access to several key players from her time in Alaska. For those wondering whether Team Sarah wanted “The Undefeated” to come out in conjunction with some sort of presidential buzz, Bannon says that the team never expressed interest in or exerted any pressure on a movie release date.

Though the film production timeline was not, it appears, done with any kind of presidential 2012 campaign in mind, it is capable of giving people a second impression of Palin and one that could prove useful in a 2012 discussion, because it’s a documentary based on facts that show the governor as an astute leader and a smart woman, unlike how she has been portrayed for the better part of three years. Bannon himself is a Harvard grad and was impressed with how Palin governed the state. He also said even some liberals in the entertainment industry are garnering a great appreciation for her as a person of substance.

Maybe that’s because “The Undefeated” takes the better part of two hours to highlight something that many people have glossed over –Sarah Palin’s legislative accomplishments.

Americans hear the generic, cliché phrases about how Palin cleaned up the good old boys network in Alaska and improved the state’s energy infrastructure. But this movie gives you the facts and details behind those clichés – it draws heavily on interviews from those who know the state best, newspaper clippings and TV coverage of Palin's time as an elected Alaskan official, and it is sewn together by narration from Palin herself that the director borrowed from audio of her book, Going Rogue.

As governor, Palin actually did comb through the Alaskan budget line by line and powerfully wielded the veto pen. She implemented important reforms to Alaska’s oil industry and pressured Exxon to start drilling again in Point Thomson after holding leasing on the land for years. The film includes an old TV report about the businesses that came to Wasilla thanks to its new pro-business atmosphere, fostered by Palin. And, unlike the Democrats who talk a big game about taking on Big Oil, Palin actually took on Big Oil with a tenacity that should make her Nancy Pelosi’s hero, releasing the stranglehold that those companies had on the oil resources and industry in her state. She didn’t stand for corruption in the Alaskan government – her ethical stance, in fact, was a key factor in the popularity that allowed her to run for governor.

What did her critics do? They responded by calling her a Spice Girl or some variation of Nordstrom girl – and this was back during her Wasilla days, way before the national media ever began launching torpedoes her way. Palin’s response? She won re-election as mayor of Wasilla with about 75 percent of the vote. She had an over 80 percent approval rating as governor.

It’s the sentiment of Bannon’s movie: think again before you underestimate Sarah Palin.

Elisabeth Meinecke

Elisabeth Meinecke is TOWNHALL MAGAZINE Managing Editor. Follow her on Twitter @lismeinecke.