Our interns are at it again tonight, this time polling members of the Senate asking them to release their earmark requests. And once again we are mostly being snubbed.
Most in the House refused to even answer our calls, and from the running tally we're keeping, the Senate is following the same strategy as the House: not giving us the time of day.
There are a few mavericks. Presidential contender Barack Obama was ahead of the pack, releasing his earmark requests last week. John McCain doesn't have any earmark requests, which I think is being the most maverick of all.
But offices of the other senators running for president -- Senators Clinton, Dodd, Biden and Brownback -- didn't bother returning our phone calls or told us they would get back to us and haven't.Click here to see how your senator responded
The point of this exercise isn't to embarrass anyone or show how rude members of Congress and their staff can be. I really want you to know what your representatives are asking for, so you can see where our money is going.
Not naming names here, so I'm not accused of being political, but one congressman wants to spend money to make sure minorities are hired at an airport. Fine, except for one little detail that was left out of the earmark: the airport doesn't exist. It hasn't been built; it hasn't even been approved to be built. There is no airport. Congress is going to spend $231,000 deciding who is getting hired at an airport where no one is getting hired.
Lots of senators and congressman support the arts. So do I. But do you want $150,000 dollars to be sent to a museum that is so poorly attended it is only open two days a year? That actually was approved.
When I was born in the early 1960s, the quote ringing in my ear was from John Kennedy. And it stuck with me. "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
Somehow, in the last four decades that great piece of wisdom has been twisted by John Kennedy's own Democratic Party and ignored by the Republicans. The rallying cry in D.C. today: "Ask often, ask for a lot and if you don't get enough, ask the taxpayers to give you even more."
Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma told me he's disgusted by what he sees in Washington. He's one of the few who doesn't ask for earmarks for his state, telling me it shouldn't be a game about what Oklahoma can get from the federal government.
It's a game that has left the United States with a huge and still growing federal bureaucracy and a collective national debt that keeps getting pushed off to future generations.
"Both parties are equally guilty," he told me on the steps of the Russell Senate Office building. "How did we get to the fact that every kid born this year is going to owe $453,000 dollars on what we've already spent?"
Granted, earmark requests are just a small portion of that federal budget deficit. But I urge every one of you to look at the requests your congressional representatives have made on your behalf, and ask yourself: Is this really what the federal government should be paying for? Let me know what you find out.
-- By Drew Griffin, CNN Correspondent