At a rally in Virginia yesterday with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at his side, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) launched into one of his routine stump lines about earmarks, saying “We’re never going to spend $3 million again to study the DNA of bears in Montana.” “I don’t know if that was a paternity issue or a criminal issue, but it’s not going to happen again,” joked McCain. Watch it:
McCain’s recitation of this canned line is ironic in the presence of his new running mate. As Politico’s Ben Smith reported yesterday, Palin sought a similar earmark this year to fund research on the “genetics of harbor seals”:
“We’re not going to spend $3 million of your tax dollars to study the DNA of bears in Montana,” McCain has said during this year’s campaign, referring to a study he’s mocked for years of whether grizzlies need to keep their status as an endangered species.
Palin, meanwhile, has requested $3.2 million to be spent in part researching the “genetics of harbor seals,” in one of the state’s many requests for federal funding of research into Alaska’s fauna.
Perhaps if McCain wants to know whether the harbor seal study is “a paternity issue or a criminal issue,” he could simply ask his running mate.
Additionally, this isn’t the first time McCain’s efforts to make earmarks “famous” have conflicted with Palin. CNN reports today that “McCain criticized two of his future running mate’s hometown projects in broadsides in 2001 against congressional ‘pork-barrel’ spending”:
In a 2001 statement opposing a transportation spending bill McCain singled out for criticism about $3 million worth of those projects. McCain’s list of “objectionable” spending included a $2.5 million road project for the town that then had a population of 5,500, as well as a $450,000 appropriation for an agricultural processing plant there.
The McCain-Palin campaign defended the conflict in a statement, saying that “Palin was forced to work within the current system to obtain critical funding for a growing city.” Somehow, projects that McCain once considered “objectionable” are now deemed “critical” by his campaign.
Andrew Sullivan points out that the harbor seal genetics earmark conflicts with Palin’s current rhetoric about earmarks as well.