Friday, June 30, 2006

Jeff Flake

I like this guy:

Arizona's Jeff Flake is a political guerrilla with a smile, a ringer for actor Owen Wilson who crashes not weddings but his own Republican Party.

Since May, the Republican congressman has grabbed the spotlight with the "Flake Hour" -- a tradition at the end of debate on spending bills, in which he asks colleagues to come to the House floor and explain why taxpayers should pay for pet projects in their districts.

The White House isn't immune to the attention of Mr. Flake, who helped force House votes challenging the administration's Cuba policy and the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance of some communications. And like no one else, he has taken on the scandal-plagued House Appropriations Committee, a Republican power structure assigned the task of earmarking billions of dollars for home-state projects among members this election year.

"I don't think our leadership fully appreciates the trouble we are in," Mr. Flake says, explaining that Republicans are cutting their throats politically by continuing to sanction earmarks as part of an "all politics is local" re-election strategy. The approach, he says, sacrifices the party's credibility with voters who want more control of spending. "What's just mystifying is the sense of entitlement now: You have the right to have your projects and to ask for it through the process without anyone else knowing about it or being able to challenge it. That's your inherent right as a member of Congress."

I think the Republicans could use a few more Jeff Flake's in their ranks.