The surreal satire of a political campaign that is Sarah Palin’s quest for the vice presidency touched down Sunday in Nebraska, a state that has reliably backed Republicans presidential tickets in every national election since 1968.

Why Nebraska?

Palin said she was just in an Omaha kind of mood.

“The pundits today on TV — one of them was saying, check out the vice president’s schedule, check out where she’s going — she’s going to Nebraska,” Palin told an enthusiastic (New York Times booing) crowd at her rally in the largest city of one of the reddest states.

“But the pundit was saying the only reason she’d be going there is ‘cause they’re scared, so they gotta go there and shore up votes. And I so wanted to reach into that TV and say no, I’m going to Nebraska because I want to go to Nebraska,” the Republican contender chirped.

Palin claimed that she has personally organized the trek.

“And you can ask — and probably the reporters will ask — the top dogs in our campaign why am I in Nebraska, and it’s truly because I asked to come to the heartland of America today,” the Alaskan governor announced.

The governor is, of course, lying.

Palin was in Nebraska because it is one of two states (Maine is the other) where electoral votes are allocated to national tickets based on the count in individual congressional districts. Republican strategists are worried that the McCain-Palin ticket could lose the Omaha-based 2nd district, where the Democratic campaign of Barack Obama and Joe Biden is making a serious push.

Hence, Palin was in Nebraska not because the heartland was tugging at her heartstrings, and certainly not because she is charting her own campaign schedule.

This was troubled campaign’s desperation dispatch of a candidate who has become something of a political punchline — as she herself admitted on Sunday.

Palin now makes regular references on the campaign trail to what she described as a “less than successful” series of interviews with CBS News Anchor Katie Couric.

At one point, Palin said she stumbled through the interview because she “annoyed” and “impatient” by Couric’s failure to ask enough questions about energy independence.

In Omaha, Palin referenced Tina Fey’s devastating parodies of her on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” program, saying of her flubbed interviews: “I was just trying to give Tina Fey more material — job security for Saturday Night Live.”

As if to confirm her commitment to keeping the comedy material coming, Palin on Sunday offered another of her “I-can-see-Russia-from-my-house” geopolitical surveys.

The woman who says she wants to be a more powerful vice president than Dick Cheney told backers that U.S. troops are “fighting terrorism and protecting us and our democratic values” in Afghanistan.

Then, she added, “They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan.”