The Buzz

William Shatner's Palin poetry

Categories: Social Media, Television

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Actor William Shatner turned Sarah Palin's final speech as Alaskan governor into a work of poetry on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. (NBC/YouTube)

On Sunday, Sarah Palin stepped down as governor of Alaska. As expected, she didn't go quietly, delivering a corker of a farewell speech filled with circuitous tangents and flowery prose that left many wondering what the heck she was trying to say up there. But last night, Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien claimed he'd figured out Palin's purpose: after parsing the text of her address, he came to the conclusion that John McCain's former running mate was trying to bring a little Alaskan-style poetry into all of our lives.

To prove his point, O'Brien recruited a man who's made more than a few booming proclamations of his own, a man who changed the face of 20th century spoken word recordings with his 1968 album The Transformed Man: Canuck master thespian William Shatner. Shatner read an excerpt from Palin's speech (more or less) verbatim.

If the clip above doesn't play, try this one:

Conan and Captain Kirk have me convinced. With the backing accompaniment of an ice cube-cool jazzbo upright bass and bongo duo and delivered in Shatner's characteristic ponderous cadence, Palin's perplexing non-sequiturs make a lot more sense as 21st century beat poetry.

For the sake of comparison, check out the original text of the section Shatner read from Palin's speech::

And getting up here I say it is the best road trip in America soaring through nature's finest show. Denali, the great one, soaring under the midnight sun. And then the extremes. In the winter time it's the frozen road that is competing with the view of ice fogged frigid beauty, the cold though, doesn't it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs? And then in the summertime such extreme summertime about a hundred and fifty degrees hotter than just some months ago, than just some months from now, with fireweed blooming along the frost heaves and merciless rivers that are rushing and carving and reminding us that here, Mother Nature wins. It is as throughout all Alaska that big wild good life teeming along the road that is north to the future. That is what we get to see every day. Now what the rest of America gets to see along with us is in this last frontier there is hope and opportunity and there is country pride.

The full 2300-word transcript can be found here.

Perhaps Shatner should record a new album based on his spoken-word interpretations of the ex-Alaskan governor's folksy Palinisms. What do you think?

--Sarah Liss

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