Saturday, November 14, 2009

Beer-Swilling Stimulus: Taxpayers to Fork Over $17 Million for Billy Carter Gas Station Preservation!

Wonders never cease! From the Los Angeles Times, "Billy Carter's Old Gas Station: A National Monument?":

In the age of the $787-billion stimulus package, it is, perhaps, a modest question:

Should the American taxpayer foot the bill to enshrine the gas station run by the late Billy Carter -- the beer-swilling, wisecracking, self-professed redneck brother of our 39th president?

Located in the middle of tiny Plains -- still the world's most famous peanut town some 28 years after the Carter presidency -- the station was transformed into a museum last year by a civic group that owns the property.

Most locals agree it has been rendered cleaner and more pleasant than it was under Billy's proprietorship, when it served as an improvised beer joint, gambling hall and grease-stained agora for homespun philosophizing.

Its claim to historical significance came during Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential run, when reporters mobbed Plains and transformed the station into a sort of unofficial headquarters.

It became the setting for story after story about Jimmy's little brother, Billy, his down-home manners and epigrammatic wit (e.g., "Beer is not a good cocktail-party drink -- especially in a home where you don't know where the bathroom is") and the candidate's rural roots.

In a reminiscence posted at the museum, Billy's family writes that both press and tourists back then "seemed to be amazed a place such as the Station actually existed outside bad, B-grade movies about Southern moonshine runners."

Last month, the House approved a measure that would incorporate the station into the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, a National Park Service operation that runs a number of Carter-related buildings in Plains. A similar bill is under consideration in the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The legislation calls for the park service to take over the gas station, plus an old farmhouse that Jimmy and wife Rosalynn lived in from 1956 to 1961. Both would be donated by the current owner, the Plains Better Hometown Program.
Really. This is no joke.

The Congressional Budget Office analysis is here: "H.R. 1471 - A bill to expand the boundary of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in the state of Georgia, to redesignate the unit as a National Historic Park, and for other purposes."

Not sure if authorized funding will come from the Obama/Democratic Economic Recovery Act, but no doubt -- one way or another -- some stimulus money's going make it down to Old Billy's Bodega.