Five years ago, John McCain was at the center of American politics. Swirling around him, an interesting cast of characters, most of whom still keep making their way into the news for various reasons. Let's check in on these people whose names you may not remember (or have barely forgotten)!

Sarah Palin

In October 2008: Closing out her campaign for vice president of the United States.

In October 2013: CNN had a splashy story on Friday, pronouncing "The return of Sarah Palin." She is heading out on a tour of the country, flacking her new book about how to win the War on Christmas. ("At a time when Christian values are challenged—when the greeting 'Merry Christmas' has been replaced by the supposedly less offensive 'Happy Holidays'—Governor Sarah Palin makes the case for bringing back the freedom to express the religious spirit of the season.")

She's still making media appearances, although she's getting picky. On Friday afternoon, she respectfully declined an offer from Piers Morgan to appear on his CNN program, sending him a photo of herself with a dead bear on which is scrawled "Piers: Kind of busy right now."

The picture at right is actually from 2012.

"Joe" the "Plumber"

In October 2008: Becoming the inexplicable focus of a presidential debate after Barack Obama accidentally told him about his secret plan to make everyone Socialist.

In October 2013: Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher began the month strong, republishing a blog post on his new media site titled, "America Needs a White Republican President." He was quick to point out that he didn't write the post, he was just putting it on his website under his picture.

The person who wrote the post is black conservative Kevin Jackson, who runs a site called "The Black Sphere." On Friday, Wurzelbacher tweeted Jackson's Photoshopped response to Rep. Alan Grayson's KKK email. That response is at right. The "Democrats" to which Wurzelbacher refers are presumably those of the pre-Civil Rights South, before the passage of the Civil Rights Act turned the South solidly Republican.

Wurzelbacher later defended that tweet to Talking Points Memo. "I know the media doesn't want to talk about it, but racism is/was/always will be part of the Democrat party," he said. "I have heard more racist thing out of liberal progressives then I have out of conservatives."

Meghan McCain

In October 2008: Campaigning for and selling books about her father.

In October 2013: In addition to launching a new TV show on a new TV network, McCain is also opening up about her feelings on her dad.

From Yahoo News:

Sen. John McCain says his daughter Meghan can be a “giant pain in the ass.”

But the 29-year-old daughter of the Arizona Republican is laughing off her father’s comment, which he makes in jest during an interview with Meghan in an upcoming episode of her new reality show, Raising McCain.

“I feel like McCains are pains in the asses!” McCain told “Top Line.”

That is what she is up to.

John McCain

In October 2008: Running for president by making frequent appearances in front of large crowds.

In October 2013: Appearing on Sunday talk shows. (The 2013 image above is from Face the Nation.)

Liz Cheney, Wyoming Senate Candidate and daughter of the former vice president, has claimed that McCain has also changed his politics to become a liberal Republican. McCain's spokesman called that "laughable," so it sounds like the Arizona senator is still enjoying life.

All photos courtesy the AP or Reuters.