As I've said before, there's a relatively new grifter class of Republican conservatives who are vying for shows and appearances on Fox News, at GOP and Tea Party-type events, churning out books and generally competing for the guaranteed Conservative Dollar. This means that Sarah Palin is actually rivals with Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and even, now, Mike Huckabee. (His declining to run in order to preserve his current income made that clear.) Fox News is built on narrowcasting to their rightwing viewership base, and the game for individuals is all about being outrageous enough in your pandering to prejudice and ideology to beat your comrades in conservatism to that audience's paycheck.
While I find them dismissible for other reasons, I do not put Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty or John Huntsman in the grifter category. They may pander, but they are still politicians rather than solely con artists. I'd even, for the moment, put Rick Santorum in the non-grifter category. (I would not, however, put him in the "intelligent" category.) Ron Paul is at a higher level altogether, because I don't see him lying or bending his positions to try and win any nominations. He's essentially as honest as Obama, if ideologically opposed.
As O'Donnell points out, the pity isn't that Palin et al are grifters or that her chump fans waste their cash on her.
It's that our national political media even pays attention.