Congressional Republicans and President Bush came to power promising fiscal restraint, but this year pork barrel spending hit a record high, up more than 6 percent, according to a nonpartisan group that tracks wasteful government spending.
According to the Citizens Against Government Waste's annual "Pig Book," the government passed $29 billion of wasteful spending -- or pork -- into congressional appropriation bills in 2005.
"Pork is a form of legalized bribery," said the group's president Tom Schatz. "Members of Congress particularly on the Appropriations Committee take our tax dollars and turn it into projects that benefit them back home."
Some of the spending included $1 million for a water-free urinal conservation initiative and $13 million to partly fund the World Toilet Summit.
"Their tax dollars are getting flushed down the drain here in Washington," Schatz said.
The current national debt is more than $8 trillion, more than $28,000 per person. That debt is not helped by initiatives such as $1.3 million for "berry research" in Alaska or $500,000 for the Arctic Winter Games or $500,000 to fund the Teapot Museum in Sparta, N.C.
The biggest per capita porkers -- who say they're merely advocating for their constituents -- are Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.
Democrat Bob Byrd of West Virginia came in fourth, behind Washington, D.C., where almost half a million dollars has been allocated for flowers and foliage.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an opponent of pork, is outraged, but not surprised.
"Pork this year seems to have exceeded even the previous year's goals, an all-time high, thousands and thousands of earmarks that are a terrible waste of taxpayers' dollars," McCain said.