In what must be the most bizarre tale of earmarking I’ve ever heard the Oregonian is reporting that the T-shirts purchased for Marines through a $2 million earmark have been banned because they "can melt, causing severe burns." Rep. David Wu, the member who inserted the earmark is "horrified". This information has come out due to the excellent database set up by the Seattle Times.
Wu also is "horrified" that journalists and others would connect the earmarks he distributed to the campaign contributions he received. Now perhaps, if given a huge benefit of the doubt, Wu was attempting to get a contract to a district based business to do this kind of work. You know, the typical "help out the district" work that members of Congress are supposed to do. Even if we assume that, this example clearly shows that earmarking is not an efficient way of doling out important contracts. Maybe if there was some kind of competitive bidding or review process we wouldn’t have Marines getting "severe burns" from their own melting clothes.