A $48.3 million earmark for an artificial rainforest in a town outside of Des Moines has been axed, in a victory against pork so pathetically insignificant that it makes me want to weep. Naturally, the money was sent home by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.), who claimed to be taken by surprise by its imminent demise.
Grassley said he was disappointed the Democrat-controlled House and Senate included language pulling the grant, and didn't bother to tell him.
Executive director David Oman is incomprehensibly optimistic that the $150 million project will continue despite a $50 million shortfall before the congressional money was pulled. But then, incomprehensible optimism seems to be central to the whole affair: The park is projected to attract 800,000 visitor to the area. But Oman is also bitter.
Oman said it's ironic that Congress approved a range of local projects, but not an Iowa development with a broader scope.
"This is a national project in Iowa," Oman said. "It is not a local project. To see a lot of new earmarks for swimming pools and parking lots and stoplights while Iowa appears to be losing funds for a national resource is difficult to understand."
I suppose he's almost-kinda-sorta-nearly right about this. Funding swimming pools in, say, Muskogee from the national treasury is the height of absurdity in its own small way. But a plastic rainforest in Des Moines is $50 million worth of absurdity.
For those in fly-over country who absolutely must have a rainforest experience which they can get to in the family Winnebago, there's always Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, a mere 2 hours and 55 minutes away as the 'bago flies, which has an indoor rainforest of its own.
Via Mark Lambert