Levi Johnston, Giving the Palins a Mud Bath

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, September 3, 2009; 12:00 AM

A few weeks ago, after he gave yet another stammering, insight-free TV interview, we accused poor Levi Johnston of having nothing to say.

Well, what did we know? Turns out Sarah Palin's ex-almost-son-in-law was saving it all for a more prestigious outlet -- and a paycheck.

In the October issue of Vanity Fair, now hitting newsstands, Johnston shares his "as told to editors" story of life with the former Alaska governor and her family, claiming that Palin and husband Todd bickered often and slept apart; that they nagged him and daughter Bristol to let them adopt their out-of-wedlock baby; that the kids did all the housework; that she never read the newspaper; that she was desperate to make money; that she didn't really know how to shoot.

Oh, and that she made Johnston cut off his mullet.

Reps for Palin did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday, though they've previously blasted the 19-year-old -- who first started blabbing on the "Tyra" show in April -- for "engaging in flat-out lies [and] gross exaggeration" and basically cashing in on his brush with political history.

All this seamy domestic dish came to light after the high-tone monthly approached the Wasilla teen to tell his story. Magazine chief Graydon Carter assigned a young editor, Jon Kelly, who spent three days interviewing Johnston in New York in late July, then worked with him to turn the transcribed conversations into a story, said Vanity Fair rep Beth Kseniak.

Johnston was paid as author of the story, though the magazine would not say how much. Among the claims of the former electrician's apprentice in "Me and Mrs. Palin":

-- Sarah Palin urged the teenage couple to let Todd and her adopt the baby they were expecting; Johnston theorizes that this was because she didn't want people to know her daughter got pregnant. "She was nagging -- she wouldn't give up."

-- The governor is not the outdoorswoman she seemed: "I've never seen her touch a fishing pole. She had a gun in her bedroom and one day she asked me to show her how to shoot it. I asked her what kind of gun it was, and she said she didn't know."

-- But no bookworm either: "Once in a blue moon, I'd see her reading a book, and I've never even seen her read a newspaper in my life. The Frontiersman and the Anchorage Daily News were always there in the morning, but the only one who looked through them was Todd."

-- The Palins slept apart (Todd "in the living room, on his little black recliner, with the TV going in the background -- usually with the news or an Ultimate Fighting Championship match on -- wearing clothes he wore that same day") and dropped the "d" word when fighting ("Todd would say, 'All right, do you want a divorce? Is that what you want? Let's do it! Sign the papers!' They'd either stop and be fine or Sarah would go to her room. That's just how it was with them.")

-- Sarah Palin seemed to dote more on her new grandson, Tripp, than on her own infant, Trig. "Sarah has a weird sense of humor. . . . Sarah would call Trig -- who was born with Down syndrome -- 'my little Down's baby.' . . . and sometimes say, playing around, 'No, I don't want the retarded baby -- I want the other one,' and pick up Tripp. That was just her -- even her kids were used to it."


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