Alaska needs a publicity campaign to restore its image after battles over wilderness oil drilling and "Bridges to Nowhere" that have made the state a laughing stock, Gov. Frank Murkowski said on Tuesday.I don't have to say here that I'm with Murkowski on ANWR. Nevertheless, the whole “bridge to nowhere” thing is quite rightfully a laughing stock. Worse, it’s utterly dishonest to call bridge opponents “special-interest extremists.” “Special-anti-special-interest extremists” perhaps—but the idea that Alaska pork is not a “special interest” is yet again, utterly laughable. And extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, bud. Remember that?
"Alaska has been held up to public ridicule by the special-interest extremists," Murkowski said in his state-of-the-state address in the capital, Juneau.
The Republican governor is an ardent advocate of controversial development projects including the proposed federally funded bridges and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, both of which the U.S. Congress has balked at.
The bridges -- one to an island of 50 people and the other connecting Anchorage to a little-used port -- have been dubbed "Bridges to Nowhere" by critics of federal "pork barrel" largess and become fodder for late-night television comedians.
Environmentalists have waged a long-running battle against drilling in the refuge, also known as ANWR, which they view as a pristine natural treasure.
Murkowski proposed a two-year public-relations campaign, which he said was "long overdue" and would resemble successful campaigns conducted by groups like the Sierra Club and the National Rifle Association. [Yereth Rosen, Reuters]
If Murkowski wants Alaska to have a new bridge, I say this: get out of the way and let a developer build one that charges tolls.