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Pushing Pork

E. J. Dionne Jr. has a nice piece up this morning, poking some fun at Republican incumbents running on their records of bringing home the bacon.

For instance, in a recent debate, presidential hopeful Sen. George Allen of Virginia bragged about securing a $671.3 million expansion of Craney Island, adding 580 acres and "offering a boost for a future port there.''

Even worse is a Web site from the embattled Sen. Conrad Burns in Montana. It has a section on: "What Conrad Burns Means to You!'' As in, what pork has he brought home from Washington, D.C.:

What's nifty is that Montanans can click on their city, town or region -- Billings, eastern Montana, Kalispell, Bozeman, Great Falls, Missoula, Butte or Helena -- and find out their share of the take.

The "Key Accomplishments for the Billings Area'' included the Montana Avenue Restoration, the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, Pompeys Pillar, the Armed Forces Reserve Center and the Airport Road and Zimmerman Trail.

Pompeys Pillar? According to Burns' site, it's "an interpretive monument dedicated to the only signature and physical evidence of their passage through the Lewis and Clark Trail.'' Further checking revealed that the "signature'' in question is Capt. William Clark's, carved into the monument on July 25, 1806. Very cool.

That is nifty. And disturbing in a now-familiar way.

The GOP majority in Congress (and the White House) has become extremely comfortable with the trappings of power. Sens. Allen and Burns are quintessential big-government conservatives, and increasingly symbols of what's wrong with the current Republican Party.

For all his faults, at least John McCain still has enough respect for the idea of small government not to go around bragging about pork (though, not enough to leave the First Amendment alone). Others, however, have tossed limited-government to the wind.

At least when Lieberman brags about pork it's understandable. He's a Democrat.

We used to expect better from Republicans.