Matt Towery

Did you hear the one about the $15 million worth of ice someone paid for and never used? They finally just decided to let it all melt. After all, it was just a drop in the bucket.

If that sounds like a bad joke, it is. It's bad because it's true.

We've now learned that the U.S. government finally took decisive executive action in allowing the mountain of ice put aside for Hurricane Katrina victims to be "eliminated." Or "melted," as the rest of us non-bureaucrats would say.

In the obscene world of federal budget numbers, the $15 million appropriated to pay for all that ice is truly a drop in the bucket.

However, with the savage disregard Americans already have for their government -- both the White House and Congress -- the drip, drip of leaking tax dollars may start to have the cumulative political effect of annoying Americans beyond their customary patriotic disdain for Washington.

Past opinion surveys tell us that male voters rank government waste and its evil twins, taxing and spending, equally high on their list of issues that help them decide how to vote for president of the United States. This is particularly true of Republican men.

That leads to the subject of former Sen. Fred Thompson, now an unannounced but likely GOP candidate for president. In surveys of Republican voters in both Georgia and South Carolina, conducted for the Southern Political Report (, Thompson finished first, ahead of the usual pack leader, Rudy Giuliani.

Other polls in Florida and Iowa show Thompson picking up steam.

A close examination of these polls reveals that Thompson's big boost is coming from Republican men. They seem to be yearning for a return to the GOP's fiscal-reform vision of the mid-1980s.

Not to burst their bubbles, but not everything went swimmingly in the Reagan years. Some of the fiscal policies of both Reagan and Congress back then didn't exactly promote a low-tax, pro-business environment. But that's a story for another day.

The point is that today's disgruntled Republican voters are searching for something -- anything -- that can separate them as voters from what they view as a Republican Party that's drifted way off course.

Is Fred Thompson the man to seize the rudder?

In person Thompson often dominates with the combination of his impressive height and movie-star presence. People often swarm to him for photos, handshakes and autographs. Much like Ronald Reagan, the friendly and folksy Thompson happily obliges his fans.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery