You almost have to wonder: Does Sen. John McCain remember who Conrad Burns is?
Since 2003—and in regular tirades during McCain’s present-day stump speeches—the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2008 presidential race has made political hay out of an important grizzly bear study being conducted by field biologist Katherine Kendall, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Who procured funding for the alleged “pork barrel” project? Why, that would be Senator Conrad Burns, the chairman of the McCain campaign in Montana.
Burns, the former chair of a Senate subcommittee overseeing the USGS budget, was able to earmark about $1 million for the Northern Divide Grizzly Bear Project in 2003. The Republican senator pushed through additional sums for the project each subsequent year until his defeat by Sen. Jon Tester in 2006.
The bear project, which McCain has been knocking since its 2003 beginnings, uses DNA samplings to get a scientific count of grizzlies in the Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest ecosystem.
These days McCain often makes jokes about bear paternity tests. He is also running campaign commercials that state: “Three million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. Unbelievable.”
According to the Washington Post, the study budget is actually $5 million.
The Independent attempted to contact Burns at his new job as a Washington, D.C., lobbyist for Gage LLC, but did not get a response as of press time.