After John McCain's presidential campaign decided to withdraw from Michigan, his vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin dissented. Once the Secret Service learned of Palin's plan to drive to Michigan one morning anyway, it got a blunt response upon asking how to handle it: "Shoot out the tires."

That was but one nugget of information revealed Wednesday in a lengthy Vanity Fair expose by Michael Joseph Gross, who chronicles Palin's journey from a small-town hockey mom to a powerful national force, and the "place of fear, anger, and illusion" it has led her to.

Palin, Gross learns, had a vicious temper during the campaign and was easily set off, yelling often at staffers and even throwing objects. "You just got to let her go through it," her husband Todd once told an aide. "Half the stuff that comes out of her mouth she doesn’t even mean."

Colleen Cottle of Wasilla, Alaska, who served on the city council, said Mayor Palin "had no attention span" and "does not understand math or accounting—she only knows buzzwords, like 'balanced budget'."

A source described as a Palin's "friend" told Gross: "Once, while Sarah was preparing for a city-council meeting, she said, 'I'm gonna put on one of my push-up bras so I can get what I want tonight.' That’s how she rolls."

"Insiders" said that after the campaign, Palin's temper and meltdowns were on full display. "We weren’t good enough for America," Palin reportedly told one of her children. "We’ll never be good enough for America."

Palin would often be engrossed in her Blackberry during her campaign, seeming distant and wrapped up. An aide once asked her what she was reading: "Im reading these great e-mails," she responded, "from the prayer warriors." (Prayer warriors, Gross notes, are individuals who ask God to affect a battle between the forces of light and darkness.)

On the night of her debate with her Obama campaign counterpart Joe Biden, she received an email from influential right-wing Christian activist Lou Engle comparing her to the biblical Queen Esther. "This is an Esther moment in your life," he told Palin. "Esther hid her identity until Mordecai challenged her to risk everything for such a time as this. Your identity is 'Sarah Barracuda.' ... Sarah, don’t hide your identity tonight."

Aides to Palin declined to speak to Gross on the record, telling him they received a signature threat from the former governor if they were to cross her: "I have the power to ruin you."

As for Palin's declining popularity in Alaska, a woman in Alaska offered a take: "People who loved Sarah Palin are disappointed," she said, reflecting on Palin's national transformation, "because they found out that Sarah Palin loves Sarah Palin most of all."