See? They needed your money for a good cause, Tea Partiers.

WASHINGTON — Poor oversight by the Internal Revenue Service allowed workers to use agency credit cards to buy wine for an expensive luncheon, dorky swag for managers’ meetings and, for one employee, romance novels and diet pills, an agency watchdog said Tuesday.

Two IRS credit cards were used to buy online pornography, though the employees said the cards were stolen. One of the workers reported five agency credit cards lost or stolen.

IRS employees used agency credit cards to make more than 273,000 purchases totaling nearly $108 million in 2010 and 2011, according to the report by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

The vast majority of those purchases were legitimate, the report said. However, the report said the IRS has inadequate controls to prevent inappropriate purchases.

They were stolen. That’s the ticket! Aww, yeah:

Among other “improper” purchases identified by the inspector general:

— $3,152 to rent a popcorn machine and to buy prizes for an employee event, including bandanas, stuffed animals, sunglasses and stovepipe hats.

— $418 for novelty decorations and swag at managers’ meetings, including kazoos, bathtub toys and “Thomas the Tank Engine” wristbands.

— $119 for Nerf footballs that were never used and were found stored in a filing cabinet.

Liberals scoff that waste/fraud/abuse is a nothingburger because it’s such a small percentage of the overall budget that fixing all of it wouldn’t solve our long-term problems. First, that’s an indictment of the ridiculous size of the entire budget, and second, there’s something perverse about using the sheer size of the giant, wasteful budget you’ve created to excuse away the level of waste and fraud it allows. And, third, how many Americans do you think are spending a couple grand for a popcorn machine in bad economic times—or any times for that matter? I’m sure many of them would like to, but most of them don’t have thousands to drop on movie-theater quality popcorn while the people in charge of taking their hard-earned money from them are partying it up with said money. It’s amazing what we can do when we pool resources, huh? Government is just a word for things we do together. Like, buy popcorn machines with everyone’s money.

Also, this:

Only the government.

Ron Fournier at National Journal called for a special prosecutor in the IRS targeting scandal today, suggesting not all the Beltway press is content to move on from the deep, deep problems at this government agency.

The House Oversight Committee may bring Lois Lerner back to the witness table soon:

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will vote this week on whether suspended IRS employee Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights last month during a hearing on the agency’s tea party targeting scandal.

The vote, which will take place on Friday at 9 a.m., will determine whether the panel can haul Lerner, who led the IRS tax exempt division that singled out conservative groups, back to the panel for more questions.

And, yes, she’s still on paid vacation. Does she get taxpayer-funded porn with that?

Several lawmakers since then have told POLITICO that they expect she’d plead the Fifth again if she’s brought back to the committee.

Daniel Werfel, the new leader of the IRS installed in the wake of the scandal, asked Lerner to resign last month. When she refused, he placed her on administrative leave.

Perhaps most galling about this immigration effort is that it’s time and bandwidth and precious spotlight spent on an issue precious few Americans believe is the most pressing we face. Meanwhile, a once-in-a-lifetime-style shot at broader tax reform and a chance to deliver many Americans from the capriciousness of the likes of Lerner was staring you right in the face. If we’re going to try our hand at major legislation while Democrats lead the Senate, why not that instead? Heckuva job.

Photo credit for front-page photo to greencolander on Flickr Creative Commons.