Not that I have any patience for members of Congress who preen in front of cameras about how they "work hard" … nay, "fight" … to remove "pork" -- earmarks are, as anyone who's not completely innumerate knows, lost in the noise of government spending (vide) -- but this bit from Gail Collins, involving not just ol' Tax and Spend™ Ted, but key players from Teh Party of Fiscal Responsibility™, is pretty funny:
My own favorite target for extinction is a $9 million annual appropriation for museums and educational programs that highlight the “shared culture and tradition” of Alaskan Natives, Native Hawaiians and “children and families of Massachusetts.”
In other words, whaling.
This was originally the idea of Ted Kennedy and two colleagues from Alaska and Hawaii. Perhaps they had all just finished rereading “Moby-Dick” in a Senate book club. Or maybe somebody bet them they couldn’t think of an earmark that would apply to only their three states.
In 2006, Congress did vote to add a fourth beneficiary of the whaling museum money — the Choctaw Indians of Mississippi. No one seems to know why, but we’re pretty sure it has more to do with the state’s earmark-loving senior senator, Thad Cochran, than Mississippi’s rich whaling tradition.
Cochran happens to be vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and I’m betting he also has the answer to why the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, which was established to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America, is still in business 18 years after the fact. I am only saying this because the vice chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees is the former leader of the Mississippi Republican Party. The chairwoman is a Republican realtor from Arizona.
“I feel so terrible,” one budget maven told me. “I always secretly imagined it had something to do with Nancy Pelosi.”