The reason Congress has an approval rating at an all-time low (only 16% approve in the latest survey) is that the American people simply don’t trust their leaders to look beyond their own narrow interests and do what is good for the country. The farm bill that passed the House yesterday, and is set to be passed by the Senate by the end of the week, justifies the American people’s deep mistrust in the federal government.

Both parties deserve blame on this fiasco. At a cost of $290 billion over five years, Congress has just given billions of taxpayer dollars to millionaire farmers at a time when farm income is already at an all-time high. Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed the bill through Congress because she has 30 freshman Democrats she needs to protect in battleground rural districts. Minority Leader John Boehner failed to fight the bill because, as the Politico reports, after yet another special election defeat, House Republicans are operating on a “new survivor mentality” that includes abandoning their ideological principles against excess federal spending.

So how does a liberal House majority representing urban populations sign off on billions of federal handouts to millionaires in rural districts? By turning a supposed agricultural bill into a welfare bill. Of the $290 billion spent in the bill, $209 billion goes to welfare programs like food stamps, compared to only $35 billion for agricultural subsidies. And where does the rest of the money in the bill go? It goes to pork to buy off members otherwise not inclined to vote for the bill.

Again, the earmarking sins can be found on both sides of the aisle including: water for lakes in the deserts of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Nevada; $126 million in tax breaks for horse breeders in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky; federal land sales for ski resorts in Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Vermont; $1 million for a national sheep and goat center in Democratic Sen. Max Baucus’s Montana; $170 million for salmon fisherman in Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson’s California; and much, much more.

In “Godfather II,” Robert DeNiro’s young Vito Corleone is visited by the reigning mob boss Don Fanucci who tells him: “This is my neighborhood. You and your friends have to show me a little respect, ah? This truck you hijacked was in my neighborhood. You should let me wet my beak a little.” This is exactly what happened with the farm bill and is what happens with all federal government programs. In order to gain enough support for housing bailouts, SCHIP expansion, and cap and trade, politicians make sure everybody’s beak is wet. That way, when the American people demand accountability, politicians can rely silence from their co-conspirators — just like the mob.

Quick Hits:

  • Although their populations have doubled since 1960, the Interior Department listed the polar bear as an endangered species based on computer models of what might happen to them.
  • The murder of his high school football star son is inspiring Jamiel Shaw Sr. to challenge the Los Angeles Police Department policy that prohibits officers from initiating contact with people for the sole purpose of learning their immigration status.
  • To close California’s huge budget gap, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to borrow against future state lottery earnings.
  • New files shown to the Washington Post show high-ranking officials in Venezuela offered to help Colombian guerrillas obtain surface-to-air missiles meant to change the balance of power in their war with the Colombian government.
  • Congress will only provide “green collar” job training funds to programs with a labor affiliation.