Democrats: The Nation Builder

"Let's dig this ditch for Mike!" shouted Mississippi's John Bell Williams, and minutes later, a mighty chorus of "ayes" echoed through the House chamber. The "ditch" is a projected 120-mile waterway that will connect Lake Erie with the Ohio River at a cost estimated as high as $3 billion. The project has a flock of critics. But its sponsor is Ohio Democrat Mike Kirwan, 79, the Congressman responsible each year for doling out some $4 billion in pork-barrel projects to his colleagues, and most House members would sooner abandon Panama than damn Kirwan's canal.

Last week Kirwan's annual public-works appropriations...

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