A funny thing happened on the way to the forum, so to speak. After the president and key congressional democrats crowed "THERE WILL BE NO PORK" in Obama's stimulus bill, now comes the bullet train to Vegas.
This project, which nobody thinks is a priority in Las Vegas and, frankly, everyone thought was a dead and dumb idea, was according to the Associated Press and the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Washington Bureau inserted at the last minute into the stimulus bill behind closed doors. Under the Obama administration's motto of "A trillion here, a trillion there" Harry Reid slipped it in by upping the price tag for various high-speed train projects to $8 billion and getting the Vegas train inserted as a potential project.
For folks outside Nevada who might be tempted to think that this is a much needed project that residents of Las Vegas and Los Angeles clamor for, let me assure you that it has been years since anyone here even thought about the project.
Even in the blow-and-go 1990s this project barely hit the wish list of serious public officials and private tourism executives. The idea that tourists or daily commuters would hop on the bullet train in Anaheim and whir to Caesars Palace was unproven at best. It's not that anyone objected to the concept if someone in the private industry wanted to give the idea a try, but the idea of using substantial public funds for this project when weighed against other public needs -- like, say, an improved I-15 between Las Vegas and SoCal -- simply pushed the bullet train off of everyone's list.
Until the Obama recession, apparently. If there's anyone still out there worried about whether Obama, Reid and Pelosi speak the truth when they say there's no pork in their stimulus bill, let the bullet train to Las Vegas put your mind at ease. Whether that's good or bad probably depends on your perspective.
Some in Nevada will praise Harry Reid for finally using his clout to get Nevada more federal dollars. Others will give him hell for being part of the long-term problem in Washington. Let that discussion begin. But let's get one thing straight: The stimulus bill is filled with pork going to every state in the union. The bullet train is Las Vegas' pork and this train's going nonstop from the Matterhorn to the Crazy Horse.