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In Variety today, Michael Schneider compares Sarah Palin’s meetings with network executives to that of Bill Clinton’s flirtations with TV back in 2002, one that yielded nothing other than a brief “Point/Counterpoint” with Bob Dole on “60 Minutes”

Schneider writes that her pitch — on the people, geography and wonders of Alaska, “wouldn’t have made it past a network switchboard operator.” “But this is Palin, and even if she were pitching a cooking show starring first dude Todd Palin, network execs would take the meeting.

“Of course you meet with someone like that even if you’re looking just to take a gag photo for your Christmas card,” quipped one network insider.”

Schneider points out that if anything, the meetings were more about Mark Burnett forging a relationship with Palin, a bankable personality, just as he has recast the careers of Donald Trump and Martha Stewart.

Palin’s apparent embrace of Hollywood — going on Leno, doing meetings, trekking to a gifting suite — may seem contradict her criticism of industry elites, but, like other conservatives like Mike Huckabee, who promptly turned to CAA after he dropped out of the 2008 presidential race, the lure of the biz has been too great to pass up.

As for her show, I actually like the idea.

Update: BigHollywood contests the gossip mill’s reports of Palin’s visit to a gifting suite, and calls for a retraction. And the Los Angeles Times reports the same.

Another Update: George Clooney has gotten into the fray. He mocked Palin at today’s Publicists Guild Awards, when he carried 10 overflowing giftbags to the stage while presenting an award to his publicist. Then he apologized and said he ran into Palin in the gifting lounge.

Silver Spoon, which is running the gifting suite, asked E! Online for a retraction to its claims that Palin went into a swag frenzy, but the gossip site isn’t back down. In fact, they are making more claims of Palin’s excursion.