The earmarks story is a peculiar genre of journalism wherein you focus on how much government spending is directed to legislator-specified projects–generally without pointing out what a tiny fraction of total spending this is, or that without the earmarking this money would be spent anyway, on some project chosen by the executive branch. Then you rattle off a list of earmarked projects, often provided by a partisan source, which are generally chosen not for their inherent wastefulness but for their comedic potential.
Senator McCain's staff pointed to a few examples they call unnecessary spending: $208,000 for beaver management in North Carolina, $235,000 for noxious weed management in Nevada, $413,000 for peanut research in Alabama, and $247,000 for virus-free wine grapes in Washington state.
Now, all these are locally important agricultural products and/or problems, which would seem to be natural candidates for earmarks. But they are actually good candidates for mockery, given some basic laws of humor:
- Beavers are funny because animals are funny and because, well, you know.
- Peanuts are funny because peanuts are funny. (Substitute "wheat research in Kansas." See, not funny.)
- Wine grapes are funny because wine is funny–it makes people drunk! And drunks are funny.
For the life of me, though, I don't understand why noxious weed management is supposed to be funny. Maybe Nevada is funny?