Presidential hug for controversial senator
Republican Ted Stevens is the king of pork-barrel earmark spending. The senior senator from Alaska is also the architect of the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, a project to connect the town of Ketchikan (population 8,900) with its airport on the Island of Gravina (population 50) at a cost to federal taxpayers of $320 million.
Last month he was indicted on seven counts of falsifying his Senate disclosure forms. The federal charges allege that he hid $250,000 in gifts from an oil producing company to renovate his Anchorage area home. The inference is that the company got many favors in return from the senator's legislative juice as chairman or ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee.But none of that stopped President Bush from embracing Stevens, at least verbally, when he stopped at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska last night to refuel on his trip to Asia. Stevens is popular in Alaska, known as "Uncle Ted" for his faithful record of steering federal funds to the 49th state over the years. When Bush acknowledged h