Sheepish Jindal slinks away from HSR funds

SHEEPISH JINDAL SLINKS AWAY FROM HSR FUNDS…. The list of embarrassed conservative critics of the stimulus package is already pretty long, but Gov. Bobby Jindal holds a special place at the top. No one has condemned and accepted recovery funds with quite as much shameless flair as the Louisiana Republican.

Jindal, you’ll recall, delivered a widely-ridiculed national address in February, rejecting the very idea of recovery efforts, and telling Americans that government is incapable of “rescu[ing] us from the economic storms raging all around us.” He mocked the stimulus for being “larded with wasteful spending,” including funding “for high-speed rail projects.”

Over the summer, however, Jindal has been touring his home state, handing out checks — featuring his name — with money he received from the stimulus package he loathes.

But the hilarity really kicked in when Jindal took steps to apply for even more federal stimulus aid for — you guessed it — high-speed rail projects. Transportation officials from Jindal’s administration had already sent federal officials the pre-application paperwork with the intention of building HSR linking Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

As news of Jindal’s request made the rounds, the far-right Louisianan again became the subject of ridicule. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, for example, singled the governor out as one of the worst people in the world. Just 48 hours later, Jindal reversed course.

Two days after a national commentator mocked Gov. Bobby Jindal for possibly requesting federal stimulus money to build a light rail system between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the governor’s transportation secretary wrote to President Barack Obama’s administration saying Louisiana isn’t interested.

“Please be advised that the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will not be applying for the High Speed AARA funds,” state transportation chief William Ankner wrote to his federal counterpart, Secretary Ray LaHood. Ankner was referring to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. […]

The news came as a surprise to business leaders who backed the idea and had participated in preliminary discussions with Ankner.

I continue to think Jindal is going about this the wrong way. The governor should just be upfront about this, apologize for trashing the stimulus bill, acknowledge he was wrong, and explain how important recovery efforts are to states like his. I’m sure the White House would be gracious about the whole thing. At that point, Jindal could apply for grants like these without looking like a comical, shameless hypocrite.

Wouldn’t that be easier than all of this embarrassment?