ANYTHING THEY CAN DO, PALIN CAN DO DUMBER…. If there’s one thing elected officials in Alaska know how to do, perhaps better than anyone else in the country, it’s accepting federal dollars for state programs. It was curious, then, to see a certain Alaskan governor decide she’d like to reject economic recovery funds.

Gov. Sarah Palin is refusing to accept more than 30 percent of the federal economic stimulus money being offered to Alaska, including dollars for schools, energy assistance and social services.

The news Thursday drew anger from those who accused Palin of putting her national political aspirations ahead of the state’s interests, and admiration from others who say she has courage to turn down money that would expand government. The state Legislature will have an opportunity to override her decision.

Palin is not taking about $288 million of the $930.7 million that Alaska is due in the federal stimulus. Palin said she is accepting the federal stimulus money that would go for construction projects, but not funding directed at government operations.

Early reports suggested Palin would turn down half the stimulus allotment for Alaska, but Palin “later conceded that does not count the Medicaid money she is accepting. That brings down what she’s refusing to 31 percent of what the state government could get.”

Of the $288 million that Palin doesn’t want, $170 million would go to education, including money that “would go for programs to help economically disadvantaged and special needs students.” Other programs affected include “weatherization, energy efficiency grants, immunizations, air quality grants, emergency food assistance, homeless grants, senior meals, child care development grants, nutrition programs, homeless grants, arts, unemployment services, air quality, and justice assistance grants.”

It’s just fascinating. Palin has never seen a federal dollar she didn’t want, but now that some other far-right governors are trying to turn down economic recovery aid — governors who might challenge her for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — Palin suddenly sees the benefit in turning down money that might help stimulate the Alaskan economy.

Palin had a choice — people’s interests or political posturing. Guess which one comes first?

Sen. Mark Begich (D) is calling on the state legislature to override the governor’s decision: “We owe it to our children to give them the most opportunities possible, and this is money fairly allocated to Alaska in this stimulus package.”

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.