Joe Biden has had a good time talking about the Bridge to Nowhere, and so far the mainstream media has been happy to repeat his attacks on Sarah Palin for her initial support for the Ketchikan bridge before opposing it as governor. However, CNN finally reports on the support this bridge received from both Biden and Barack Obama, and goes one better. They report on Biden’s pork record, including a project that CNN calls The Bridge to Two Nowheres:
DON LEMON: Senator Joe Biden has said a lot about Sarah Palin and the so-called Bridge to Nowhere on the campaign trail, but there is a bridge in his own backyard that she could be talking about. CNN’s Special Investigative Unit Correspondent Drew Griffin reports.
DREW GRIFFIN: Last week it became part of his stump speech. You believe Senator McCain and Governor Palin are good for America’s road to recovery, Joe Biden says you better check their road map.
JOE BIDEN: I’ve got also a bridge I’ve got to sell you here. Guess what? It’s in Alaska and it goes nowhere.
GRIFFIN: Perhaps Biden believes the Bridge to Nowhere is the symbolic bridge to cross into the White House.
BIDEN: John McCain’s answers for the economy and that we’re in such desperate shape is the ultimate Bridge to Nowhere. It’s nowhere. It takes you nowhere.
GRIFFIN: But hold on Senator Biden. Keeping him honest, we decided to check on 116 reasons in Delaware that one Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska may not be such a good Democratic talking point, because 116 is the number of earmarks Senator Biden asked for this year alone. The total bill to taxpayers more than $342 million. He told our American Morning they are all justified.
BIDEN: Everyone has seen them and we have no Lawrence Welk Museums, we have no Bridges to Nowhere in Delaware. It’s all straight up.
GRIFFIN: Straight up? We went to Delaware to see for ourselves. True, there is no Lawrence Welk Museum, but Biden does want a million dollars for a children’s museum, another million dollars for opera house renovations, hundreds of thousands for this tiny waterfront park, and believe it or not, there’s also a bridge, maybe not to nowhere, but after the tourists have gone this time of year, the Indian River Inlet Bridge can seem like a bridge between two nowheres.
CAROL EVERHART: We need a new bridge and we are so fortunate that this is finally at a place where it’s going to happen.
GRIFFIN: Carol Everhart with the local chamber of commerce says the Indian River Inlet Bridge is a vital link in the tourist trade, connecting the vacation towns of Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach. Without this bridge, she says, 30,000 summer vacationers a day would have to drive an extra 35 minutes. The bridge has some erosion problems and if it ever collapsed, it would cause economic disaster here, Everhart says.
WOMAN: The bridge as it is is currently safe.
EVERHART: So why is Senator Biden asking for $13 million for this bridge now? That’s what Bill Allison of the watchdog group the Sunlight Foundation wants to know.
BILL ALLISON: Actually what Senator Biden is doing is saying that, well, my states bridge gets the priority dollars, even though it’s not a priority project.
GRIFFIN: Now the real twist in this story. Senator Biden must really like bridges, because not only does he want you to help pay to replace this bridge here in Delaware, despite what he’s been saying on the campaign trail, he actually voted for Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere. Twice. That’s right. He and Senator Barack Obama were among the 93 Senators who voted for the massive 2005 Transportation Bill funding the Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere and thousands of other projects across the country. And when another Senator tried to divert the Bridge to Nowhere money to fix a bridge to New Orleans damaged by Katrina, Senators Biden and Obama and 80 other Senators present voted against the amendment.
ALLISON: Yes, they had a chance to vote specifically against the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska, to redirect the money, and they chose not to.
GRIFFIN: John McCain, who always opposed earmarks, was not in the Senate that day and did not cast a vote. Sarah Palin wasn’t even the Governor yet. So why is Biden raising the Bridge to Nowhere on the campaign trail? Of course we wanted to ask him directly, but his campaign never got back to us. Drew Griffin, CNN, Dewey Beach, Delaware.
LEMON: And just to be clear, Drew based this on the number of appropriations Senator Biden requested for the last fiscal year. Just this week Congress approved the 2009 budget and reportedly there are at least 2000 earmarks in that bill and reporters are still trying to determine what they’re all for.
How much do you want to bet that John McCain will use “The Bridge to Two Nowheres” in the next debate? Sarah Palin may get to it first on Thursday. Certainly, the McCain/Palin campaign has worked with Palin to put these projects at the forefront in her debate with Biden.
Biden may have more to explain on Thursday. Last week, USA Today reported that Biden has $51.5 million in earmarks in the continuing resolution bill meant to keep government operating in lieu of an actual budget, which Democrats don’t want to produce before seeing who wins the presidential election. Obama suspended his earmark requests, but Biden has no such discipline. Of course, he’s also running for Senate and needs to bring home the pork in order to justify his existence.
The Bridge to Two Nowheres, brought to you by the Ticket of Two Non-Reformers.