I was preparing a lengthy analysis on tax policy and how it affects the average Ed and Kathy America, until I picked up the morning paper and learned that Gov. Sarah "I'm-a-fiscal-watchdog" Palin has been charging the taxpayers $60 for nights she sleeps in her own bed.
As this story in the Washington Post explains, Palin chooses to live in Wasilla and work out of a state office in nearby Anchorage, and she visits the state capital of Juneau only when absolutely necessary. By declaring her nights at home as "travel," she collects a per diem payment.
As John McCain might say, "That's not change ..."
No, it's not. It's the kind of same ol' politics that got us in the mess we're in.
Okay, the good-government types will tell you that the Alaska governor's salary is woefully inadequate. Granted, it is a small state (670,000) populationwise and has a nice taxpayer-funded governor's mansion (now we know why Palin fired the chef—she was never there for meals), but when you pay only $125,000 a year for your chief executive, and you are sitting on the nation's precious energy reserves, you're asking for trouble.
Nor is it a question of affordability. Alaskans have been scamming the rest of us for years, and if they want to declare that "staying home" is "travel," they can afford to do so. We're not talking about some backward province.
As Michael Kinsley notes, the inhabitants of Alaska are as rapacious as the Saudis, Iraqis, and Iranians when it comes to oil; they have no qualms, and show no embarrassment, at soaking dumb Americans. The Alaskans put huge state taxes on their oil, driving up gasoline prices and the cost of home heating oil for us down here in the lower 48, and divvy up the proceeds like Fagin and his boys. Each of them took a $3,200 cut last year, in the form of an oil rebate check.
If Palin wants to call her house a Red Roof Inn, they've got the bucks to let her.
And how is this for chutzpah? Awash with oil, Alaska still leads the nation in collecting federal subsidies. Including that infamous bridge that Palin liked, before she didn't.
Yes, even the Wall Street Journal, the voice of American capitalism, the ink-on-paper sister to Fox News, admits that McCain and Palin are...well...lying about that one.
No, I guess what irks me is how stupid Karl Rove (and the others advising McCain) think I am.
They've taken this appealing freshman governor, a typically ambitious young pol with a nice-enough life story, and are telling us she's Joan of Arc.
It's a fraud.
She's not like us; she's just like them.