The Christine O'Donnell story in Delaware raises a lot of questions. But the biggest question is how this woman spent so much time on television before beginning her political career.

The Christine O'Donnell story in Delaware raises a lot of questions.


. Can the tea party candidates continue their success in November?


. Will the tea party replace the GOP or merely become its far right faction?


. Would Sarah Palin have been as quick to endorse O'Donnell if she had checked out anything other than O'Donnell's resume and campaign literature?


. Does the media covering her wacky comments from the late 1990s allow O'Donnell to discount her previous statements and attack the media for not focusing on "real issues" like jobs, education and the economy?


But the biggest question is how this woman spent so much time on television before beginning her political career.


Palin turned a political opportunity into a television career. She's a commentator for Fox News. She has a series on Alaska. Her daughter is on "Dancing With the Stars."


O'Donnell went the other direction. This woman who was apparently interesting because of her troubled path and extreme positions was very attractive to producers. The fact that she is an attractive woman who believes in abstinence even from yourself made great television as well.


But how did she make it this far in the political process before the "I dabbled in witchcraft" tape emerged? Her primary opponent discovered that she had been featured on MTV as a proponent of chastity. But he missed the two dozen appearances on Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" series.


She told Maher and the gang a story about dating a witch who took her to satanic altar for a date.


She noted the presence of some blood around but they just had "a little midnight picnic."


O'Donnell was quick to tell the enthralled audience, "I never joined a coven!"


Well, that's a relief.


Dear reader, this was only about a decade ago that she was making these comments. How many of you share these experiences with the Republican's Senate candidate in Delaware?


The most entertaining thing about O'Donnell is how many established Republican leaders are ready to hitch their wagon to her at great risk of their credibility.


Mike Pence, who won the presidential straw poll at the Value Voters Summit last week, has vouched for her.


"We elected a Republican member of the Senate from Massachusetts. Christine O'Donnell demonstrated her ability as a candidate, articulated strong conservative views, reached out to people across the political spectrum. I think she'll continue to do that," Pence said.


The Republicans may have been glad to lose Rep. Mike Castle, who owned a bipartisan voting record. But losing the seat to Democrat Chris Coons couldn't have been what they had in mind.


Pence's win at VVS may have been a big boost for him, but I don't think it was a major turning point for 2012. After all, even Newt Gingrich beat Palin in the polling. Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney were also favored over Palin.


But the tea party princess did come in second to Pence in the vice presidential straw poll and was thus presented as the winner of that vote.


But I don't see Palin playing rhythm guitar in the new band. I look for the Mama Grizzly to take steps in one of two directions. Either she will step aside and support Pence with awkward tweets and ghostwritten Facebook posts or she will kill him quickly and take her spot on the top of the Republican ticket.


The Republicans are a hard group to figure out. They seem to be enjoying equal parts explosion and implosion. They were given a chance to win a race in Delaware only to put O'Donnell and her resume full of wacky television appearances in the driver's seat.


Sure, witchcraft isn't a major topic with voters. But how much credibility on "real issues" does someone carry who has embarrassed herself on national television that many times?


There is a huge grassroots movement among conservative voters that appears to be dividing the GOP as much as it is propelling it. Dynamite can be very useful, but it can also kill you if the explosion isn't controlled.


Anyone that can find a way to harness the energy of the tea party and use it as a tool for good deserves to lead.


Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.