Who says the age of the earmark is over? Democrats swept into power on Capitol Hill last November promising to curb earmarks — those one-line provisions federal legislators slip into bills to funnel money to their pet projects. But earmarks have continued to thrive. Lawmakers of all stripes have requested an eye-popping 32,000 this year, according to House Appropriations Chairman David M. Obey, D-Wisc. And they’re popping up in unlikely, even daring, places. Senior lawmakers and their colleagues managed to slip earmarks into the landmark Sept. 11 security bill, which the Senate approved late last night. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. Buried in the legislation, which is not a spending bill, Congressional Quarterly found language diverting $18 million for homeland security-related research at three universities: Mississippi’s Tougaloo College, championed by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.; New York’s Long Island University, thanks to House Homeland Security Committee ranking member Peter D. King, R-N.Y.; and the University of Connecticut, pushed by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ranking member Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. The schools will be part of a "National Transportation Security Center of Excellence" consortium. The bill directs the schools to study transportation security and develop training methods for "transportation employees and transportation professionals." "We know lawmakers like to make sure their schools are well-endowed, but they shouldn’t be doing it with taxpayer funds," said Keith Ashdown of the Washington, D.C.-based watchdog, Taxpayers for Common Sense. "If there’s any bill that should be sacrosanct from earmarking, it’s a homeland security bill. This worries us." Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team?