It seems that no matter what Sarah Palin does during the week, the last word on her performance will come on Saturday night, when she is lampooned on national television.

Comic Tina Fey has won raves for her dead-on impression of the Republican vice presidential nominee, and turned the long-running show, "Saturday Night Live" back into must-see TV in the US.

This week was no exception. While Palin surprised many with a flub-free performance during last week's debate with her Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden, Fey still found comedic gold.

Fey is one of the top US comediennes. She left "Saturday Night Live" for both her own TV show, "30 Rock," and a career in film. Still, Palin has proven too easy a target to pass up: Fey has returned to "SNL" week after week to spoof the Alaskan governor. She's made no secret of the fact that she would prefer that her return to the show be limited.

"I want to be done playing this lady Nov. 5," she said last month at the Emmy Awards, referring to the date of the upcoming election. "So if anybody can help me be done playing this lady Nov. 5, that would be good for me."

The impressions have been so good - and so funny - that they come up in almost any casual conversation about Palin. And that has some Republicans seething.

"The portrait was very dismissive of the substance of Sarah Palin," McCain advisor Carly Fiorina told MSNBC after the first parody last month. She also used the words "superficial," "disrespectful," and even "sexist" to describe the caricature - never mind that it was another woman who was doing the impression.

One might argue that this is simply what happens to a candidate who has given so few interviews and held no press conferences. Everything that occurs in those limited appearances gets magnified, and, this being America, caricatured. And now that Tina Fey caricature is starting to define Palin - especially among her opponents. A number of observers even remarked that the Fey impersonation helped create low, easily surpassed expectations for last week's debate.

"The bar was outrageously low," wrote John Diaz of the San Francisco Chronicle. "She wasn't being measured against Biden. Her performance was being judged against the "Saturday Night Live" caricature of her by Tina Fey."

In addition to a dead-on voice impression that captures Palin's distinct speaking pattern, the physical similarities are so great that one Canadian newspaper, "Le Soleil", accidentally ran a picture of Fey as Palin instead of the governor herself.

Le Soleil

Even Palin's sister was impressed by the impression. And Palin herself must have seen the similarities between her and Fey long before she entered the national spotlight. A spokesman reported that that governor once dressed up as Fey for a Halloween party.