BRINGING HOME THE BACON…. To hear John McCain tell it, one of the biggest problems with the political system in Washington is the way in which the federal government spends money. Special interests hire lobbyists, quietly secure lucrative earmarks, and tax dollars are wasted on pork-barrel projects.

The problem, though, is that McCain’s running mate has hired lobbyists to quietly secure lucrative earmarks, receiving millions of tax dollars on pork-barrel projects.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin employed a lobbying firm to secure almost $27 million in federal earmarks for a town of 6,700 residents while she was its mayor, according to an analysis by an independent government watchdog group.

There was $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project — all intended to benefit Palin’s town, Wasilla, located about 45 miles north of Anchorage.

When McCain introduced Palin as his running mate, he touted her opposition to wasteful spending, including the infamous “bridge to nowhere.” McCain, however, didn’t know what he was talking about, because Palin actually supported the project, and kept the money allotted for it.

As it turns out, the problem goes much further. Palin didn’t seek or receive any pork-barrel projects from Congress immediately after she became mayor of the small Alaskan town, but before long, she was hiring well-connected lobbyists to help bring in nearly $27 million in earmarks over a four-year period.

In other words, Palin was engaged in the exact same activities McCain points to as the problem with the political process. McCain, unknowingly, has been blasting his own running mate’s conduct.

With this in mind, I have two follow-up questions. First, did McCain know about Palin hiring lobbyists to secure more pork-barrel spending for her small town? And second, now that he knows, does McCain support Palin having hired lobbyists to secure nearly $27 million in earmarks?

McCain brags about never having sought an earmark for Arizona. That’s not patently false, but putting reality aside, it sounds as if McCain, on principle, should be prepared to denounce his running mate’s lobbying efforts, right?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.