ABC News’ Ron Claiborne reports: For the past year, Sen. John McCain has told a pretty good joke about grizzly bears to make a point about what he deems wasteful federally-funded earmark spending.
"My friends," McCain says, "we spent $3 million of your money to study the DNA of bears in Montana. "Now I don’t know if that was a paternity issue or a criminal issue, but it was a waste of money."
It turns out, the state of Alaska under Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain’s running mate, sought millions in federal funds to study the genetics of harbor seals, and gather data on halibut fisheries and sea crabs.
According to Politico, Alaska requested $3.2 million for "Seal and Stellar Sea Lion Biological Research," which would among to things be used to monitor ice seal populations in Native villages and study the "specifies delineation and genetics of harbors seals to understand the declines in populations and provide for population restoration."
The state also sought $2 million to look into Bering Sea crab productivity and sustainability" and $494,900 to collect data for an assessment of recreational halibut harvest.
In his exclusive ABC News interview with Palin, World News anchor Charles Gibson asked her about the request for federal funds to research seals.
"Those requests, through our research divisions and fish and game and our wildlife departments and our universities, those research requests did come through that system, but wanting it to be in the light of day, not behind closed doors, with lobbyists making deals with Congress to stick things in there under the public radar.," Palin said. "That’s the abuse that we’re going to stop. That’s what John McCain has promised over and over for these years."
She said, "The abuse of earmarks, it’s un-American, it’s undemocratic, and it’s not going to be accepted in a McCain-Palin administration. Earmark abuse will stop."
In 26-plus years in Congress, McCain has never sought an earmark for his home state Several earmarks received by Wasilla, Alaska while Palin was mayor of the town of 6,700 were cited on McCain’s pork list several years ago.