From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
Should a television network ever decide to stage a sudsy drama in Wasilla, Alaska, it won't have to look far for inspiration. Just five months after Gov. Sarah Palin's failed election bid, the mom of five and newly minted grandmother is trying to steer her state through an economic crisis—while trying to put out some fires of her own. The latest installments in the saga: a dustup with Levi Johnston, the ex-fiancé of Palin's daughter Bristol, 18, and father of 3-month-old Tripp, and the embarrassing arrest of Todd Palin's half-sister (see box).

On the Tyra Banks Show on April 6, Johnston, 18, said he was "pretty sure" Sarah Palin knew he and Bristol were having sex, acknowledged that he "felt out of place" at the Republican National Convention last summer, and complained that his ex won't let him leave the house with Tripp. "She says that I can come see the baby ... but won't let me take him anywhere," he said. A Palin family spokeswoman issued a statement castigating Levi for taking to the airwaves with his mother, Sherry Johnston, and sister Mercede. "We're disappointed," she said, "that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies."

For now it's unclear if or when the families will reconcile, but Johnston did offer an olive branch: He told Banks that, should Palin run for President in 2012, she'd get his vote.

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  • With reporting by Sandra Sobieraj Westfall.