Waste is easy to spot; now, can it be killed?

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., recently released his annual “Wastebook,” giving us all a window into the positively absurd ways in which the federal government spends the hard-earned tax dollars we give it.

Coburn’s list included 100 items of federal spending totaling $30 billion. Here is just a (bad) taste:

o $125,000 from NASA to Arjun Contractor, for a 3-D pizza printer. Yes. A 3-D pizza printer that could be part of space-exploration mission supplies. NASA warns, however, the research could take years before the technology becomes feasible.

o $17.5 million in tax exemptions from the IRS for brothels in Nevada. Coburn says the exemptions were for everything from breast implants to “free passes” deemed part of promotional costs.

o $297 million from the Army for a “mega-blimp.” After $300 million and three years in development, the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle project was halted and sold back to the contractor for only $301,000. It had managed only one 90-minute flight over New Jersey.

o $360,000 from NASA to 20 “pillownauts.” These folks will spend 70 days lying in bed, tilted slightly downward, but free to play video games and watch TV, and be paid $18,000 each. NASA says the downtime will help in research on weightlessness.

The list goes on and on. It reminds us that our federal government often can be a grotesque joke.