I almost skipped the Washington Post's front-page profile on Sarah Palin's husband, Todd Palin, afraid it would be a dull, personality piece about the man some have labeled the "First Dude." But I'm glad I went back to take another look, because it's actually an interesting piece about an unelected official, in an unofficial, ceremonial role, taking on state responsibilities without the benefit of accountability.Todd Palin grew up as the archetypal Alaskan -- salmon fisherman, champion snowmobiler, North Slope oil worker. But since his wife became governor 20 months ago, his portfolio has broadened: househusband, babysitter, senior adviser, legislative liaison, and -- when the occasion warrants -- enforcer and protector.He has supervised renovations to the governor's mansion and hopscotched by plane back and forth to Juneau to juggle duties as father and "First Dude," as he has come to be known. And to a degree that has surprised many state government observers, Todd Palin also has become involved in policy, sitting in on his wife's meetings, traveling on state business and weighing in on some legislative issues.John Harris, the Republican speaker of the Alaska House, said he had never been called by the spouse of a governor before the two calls he got from Todd Palin. One was to argue for moving the state capital to Anchorage. The other was to ask Harris to "keep an eye" on a key aide who had an affair with the wife of one of Todd's best friends.Political hands in both parties say the Palins are often referred to as a team -- "Sarah and Todd" -- and one Democratic lawmaker said Todd Palin has become her "de facto chief of staff."Yes, Todd Palin has been surprisingly busy as the spouse of the governor.