Rich Galen

Yeah, well elections have consequences. The other day the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, David Obey (D-Wis) announced that there were now some 30,000 earmarks piling up in the back rooms of the Capitol which would be smoke-filled if smoking in them were still allowed.

Last year, in a desperate effort to convince voters they were cleaning up their act, the GOP-controlled House rewrote the rules to, according to the AP, "require that earmark requests and their sponsors be publicized during a bill's drafting and debate."

You want a couple of million for a water slide in your district? No prob. You just have to defend it in public.

The Democrats - elected because they promised to clean up the system - have struck that rule and decided that earmarks and earmarkers would not be make public during debate where they might be struck by a vote of other Members of the House, or the earmarker might just decide that the water slide isn't worth the public ridicule which would accompany the debate.

So, they have decided to go to the good old days when folks like Rep. Randy  "Duke" Cunningham (R-Cellblock E) were riding high. Earmarks now will be dropped in during the conferences between House and Senate Appropriators.

Why is this important? Because (a) Conferences are very often closed to the press and (b) the output of the Conference - a Conference Report - is not amendable on the floor of either the House or the Senate.

So, what will happen is the water ride will be slid into the appropriations bill literally in the dead of night and will simply show up on the doorstep of the Interior Department for implementation and no one will ever know.

That's why the Democratic-led Congress is held in such low regard by American voters.

Nice going, Nancy.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at