Politicians Battle Over 'Coked-up Stimulus Monkeys'

What's the controversial new government spending measure today? According to Sens. John McCain and Tom Coburn, it's that the Obama administration is using tax dollars to give monkeys cocaine. Wacky! But perhaps this is a skewed take, one needing context?

Coburn and McCain recently presented a laundry list of stimulus measures that they considered wasteful. It was a very serious report. One bullet point, for example, was called "Monkeys Getting High for Science." That sounds fine with us, whatever the context. Just straight-up giving monkeys cocaine for fun? Sure! Throw a couple billion more that way, set up back alley monkey cocaine-fighting rings, make some t-shirts, etc.

But, for what it's worth, here's the context behind what Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle calls the "coked-up stimulus monkeys":

The McCain/Coburn report claimed this was a reference to a Federal grant of $71,623 to the Winston-Salem college to "study how monkeys react under cocaine."

And that's true. But the report didn't tell you why the monkeys' reaction to cocaine is being studied: To develop our understanding of how the brain chemistry of addiction works, in order to better combat drug addiction.

Administration officials say this grant was part of the roughly $8 billion in stimulus grants that the National Institutes of Health has doled out for scientific research, with the goal of creating jobs while advancing scientific knowledge. This particular grant is based on recent studies showing that drug users may get addicted because of a chemical in the brain called glutamate.

Wacky!