Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Republicans Lost on Bridge to Nowhere

John McCain and the Republicans have often bent and twisted the truth -- it's the only way to make four more years of George Bush's disastrous policies look like change.

But now they're flat-out lying.

Today, the McCain campaign launched a new ad that papers over John McCain's record of voting with Bush more than 90 percent of the time. It also blatantly lies about Sarah Palin's support for the most infamous symbol of the Republican culture of corruption -- the "Bridge to Nowhere."

The biggest whopper in the new ad claims that Sarah Palin somehow stopped the famously wasteful bridge project. In reality, she campaigned hard in support of the bridge when she first ran for governor -- less than two years ago.

Let's review the facts as given by Wikipedia:

The Gravina Island Bridge, also known as the "Bridge to Nowhere", was a proposed bridge to replace the ferry that currently connects Ketchikan, Alaska, to the Ketchikan International Airport on Gravina Island. The bridge was projected to cost $398 million. Members of the Alaskan congressional delegation, particularly Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens, were the bridge's biggest advocates in Congress, and helped push for federal funding. The project encountered fierce opposition outside of Alaska as a symbol of pork barrel spending and is labeled as one of the more prominent "bridges to nowhere".

According to the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, the project's goal was to "provide better service to the airport and allow for development of large tracts of land on the island".

A ferry runs to the island every 30 minutes during most of the year, except during the May–September peak tourist season, when it runs every 15 minutes. It charges $5 per adult, with free same-day return, and $6 per automobile each way (as of 2008[update]).

According to USA Today, the bridge was to have been nearly as long as the Golden Gate Bridge and taller than the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge would cross the Tongass Narrows, part of Alaska's Inside Passage, so the bridge was designed to be tall enough to accommodate ship traffic, including the Alaska Marine Highway and the cruise ships which frequent Alaskan waters during the summer.

Statistics show that Ketchikan's airport is the second largest in Southeast Alaska, after Juneau International Airport, handling over 200,000 passengers a year, while the ferry shuttled 350,000 people in the same time period (as of December 2006[update]). For comparison, the Golden Gate Bridge carried more than 43,000,000 vehicles in 2006, or about 118,000 vehicles each day.

The project was canceled in 2007 by bridge supporter Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who changed her view after national public opinion turned against the bridge for being wasteful spending. Palin stated:

Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer. Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.

Asked why she initially supported the bridge, Palin's communications director Bill McAllister said, "It was never at the top of her priority list, and in fact the project isn't necessarily dead … there's still the potential for improved ferry service or even a bridge of a less costly design... She changed her mind, he said, when "she saw that Alaska was being perceived as taking from the country and not giving ..."

The city of Ketchikan has already begun to develop roads and a small amount of infrastructure for the Gravina Island's 50 inhabitants. However, residents continue to seek funding for the Ketchikan-Gravina span.

On August 29, 2008, when introduced as Republican Presidential nominee John McCain's running mate, Palin told the crowd: "I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere" — a line that garnered big applause but upset political leaders in Ketchikan. Palin's campaign coordinator in the city, Republican Mike Elerding, remarked, "She said 'thanks but no thanks,' but they kept the money." Democratic Mayor Bob Weinstein also criticized Palin for using the very term 'bridge to nowhere' that she had said was insulting when she was in favor of the bridge.

In early September, the McCain campaign released a television advertisement that said, "She stopped the Bridge to Nowhere." Howard Kurtz called this a "whopper", writing: "She endorsed the remote project while running for governor in 2006, claimed to be an opponent only after Congress killed its funding the next year and has used the $223 million provided for it for other state ventures."

It seems clear to me that if you vote McCain/Palin you get Bush. I can't afford another four years of division and economic suicide, can you? Nudge all the friends and contacts you have to register to vote, it's the best way to ensure Americans are not "Bush-whacked" again. Sarah Palin is part of the problem, not the solution and it seems like she thinks she can fool us into believing the reverse of the truth. Call her out so that the truth is represented and her lie will not take root.

In the end we get the government we deserve via our participation or lack thereof.

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