PORK….By the time it finished wending its way through our tough minded, fiscally conservative Republican congress, the highway bill recently signed by President Bush included over 6,000 “earmarks.” Translated from DC-ese, this means pork, money that’s targeted for specific projects in specific districts. The most famous of the bill’s earmarks is the “Bridge to Nowhere,” a $223 million boondoggle that will connnect the Alaskan city of Ketchikan, population 8,900, to the island of Gravina, population 50. Why? Because Gravina and Ketchikan are represented by Republican Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Ronald Utt of the Heritage Foundation estimates that the bill’s earmarks are worth $25 billion, and he has a suggestion: give it back and use it for Katrina reconstruction instead. Utt reports that although his plan has gotten some support, “the response from Members of Congress has been mostly silence.” (Young, not surprisingly, called it “moronic.”)

I’m surprised I even have to say this, but here it is: Democrats should be all over this idea. They should be screaming from the ramparts, regardless of who voted for what or how much money their own districts got. It’s an issue that’s practically gift wrapped for them: a chance to display fiscal prudence, show up Republicans for the corrupt wastrels they’ve become, and demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. It’s got everything.

So why aren’t Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi leading the charge?