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There She Goes Again: Tina Fey Returns as Sarah Palin

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Dana Edelson/NBC

Forget James Garner and Mel Gibson. The new “Maverick” star is Tina Fey.

As Sarah Palin, of course.

The Emmy-winning 30 Rock creator, writer and star yet again returned to her former stomping grounds to open this weekend’s Saturday Night Live as the doppelganger for the GOP vice-presidential candidate.

Mimicking Thursday night’s debate between Alaska Gov. Palin and Democratic veep candidate Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the sketch had SNL regular Jason Sudeikis as Biden – repeatedly spouting statistics and proclaiming his love for John McCain – and guest star Queen Latifah as debate moderator Gwen Ifill, of PBS.

The Ifill character pushed her book on the African-American political structure, The Breakthrough, and looked bewildered as Fey (as Palin) veered off the track at every question.

Fey’s Palin also habitually winked at the audience, delivered a shout-out to a local Alaska third-grade class that helped her prep for the debate and used the “M”-word a lot.

As vice-president, she said, her decisions would be guided by the principle of “what would a maverick do?”

Before Latifah’s Ifill shouted, “Live from New York – it’s Saturday night!” Fey’s Palin was shown with a flute in her hand, asking, “Are we not doing the talent portion?”