Taking away McCain’s ‘fun’

TAKING AWAY MCCAIN’S ‘FUN’…. John McCain sure is enjoying himself.

“I think more and more Americans are against it,” Mr. McCain said of the earmarks in the spending bill, which he strongly opposed. “I Twitter the top 10 pork barrel projects,” he added, a reference to the messaging service. “We have gotten incredible response from it, now from local media people in the area where these earmarks take place. It’s really been a lot of fun.”

Yes, “fun.” It might be less “fun,” though, if McCain paid any attention to the scrutiny the “pork” has received of late. Many of the items of his top-10 list have turned out to be entirely worthwhile projects, and the list keeps growing.

“How does one manage a beaver?” U.S. Sen. John McCain asked his followers from the Senate floor this week.

McCain’s derisive comments — “$650,000 for beaver management in North Carolina and Mississippi,” he typed on his Twitter mini-blog — came as part of his continuing campaign against directed spending, or earmarks, in the federal government.

But he angered workers in North Carolina who say they know full well how to manage beavers: Trap the critters, blow up their dams and let the water flow.

State and federal wildlife officials claim to have saved nearly $5 million last year in potential flood damage to farms, timber lands, roadways and other infrastructure through its Beaver Management Assistance Program — the same one McCain was making fun of in Washington.

“Maybe you should ask him how much he knows about this and why he picked it out for ridicule,” said U.S. Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) “We know why he chose this — because it sounds funny.”

And for McCain and his cohorts, that’s all that matters. There’s no point in asking “how much he knows about this,” because we know the answer. He doesn’t know and doesn’t care. McCain knows his misguided whining has “really been a lot of fun,” he knows his buddies in the media will run with this, and nothing else matters.

In 2001, a freight train derailed in Pitt County after flooding weakened a rail bed near a beaver dam. Chemicals spilled from 30 rail cars, said Jon Heisterberg, state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s APHIS wildlife services’ division.

A week ago, Heisterberg took a handful of state legislative staff members to a pair of culverts under Highway 301 in Rocky Mount. There, he said, 5-foot-tall beaver dams threatened to take over the 8-foot-tall culverts.

“It would have clogged all the way if we hadn’t taken care of it,” Heisterberg said.

Funding for “beaver management in North Carolina and Mississippi” saves money over the long run. That may not be as important as McCain having “a lot of fun,” but it should matter to those lawmakers who take evidence seriously.