Sarah Palin is too busy cashing checks to attend this year's exciting Conservative Political Action Conference, the Republican Mecca (sorry for the word choice, Republicans) which began yesterday in Washington. What a snub to her fans! Fortunately a Sarah Palin impersonator showed up at the conference today, and that was good enough. Especially since many attendees thought she was the real thing.

You can catch a glimpse of the Palin impersonator in the wobbly clip up top. She's not terrible at it, but if you're within, say, 30 yards, it should be fairly obvious that she's not the real Sarah Palin.

The mob just willed itself to believe, though, that their savior had flown in for a surprise visit. Here's a comical account of the pandemonium from Slate's Dave Weigel:

But people can believe all kinds of things. A big enough crowd formed around "Palin" that hotel security started telling people not to stand on the stairs, which made it look like security was protecting a celebrity. The PJTV interview was conducted deadpan, as if "Palin" was Palin. That convinced onlookers, who have far too much trust in the media, that they were seeing Palin made flesh. William Temple, the omnipresent "Tea Party patriot" who dresses in revolutionary garb, rushed over to encourage "Palin" to run for president. She gave him a thumbs up.

People who couldn't hear Palin simply assumed that she was real, because there were so many cameras around her, and because people were actually interviewing her on policy, and she was answering. (More than one small camera crew ran over to the scrum, which is really not a bad idea — how do you know if you're getting a hoax or an exclusive.) One activist followed her as she walked to general registration and tried to talk her way into a pass; he held his cell phone and told multiple people on his call list that "I'm standing, like, five feet away from Sarah Palin."

How pissed are you all, now, that you didn't get tickets for the Republican Mecca this year? You could have stood, like, five feet away from Sarah Palin!