How Much Ham Can You Buy for $1.2M?

More than 2 pounds, apparently

We know pork-barrel politics are all the rage, but even this one reeked of exaggeration.

There were rumors circulating that the Department of Agriculture spent about $1.2 million in stimulus funds on a ham -- a two-pound ham, to be exact.

GOP officials had a field day with the Ag Department's piggy predicament, calling it a clear indication of wasteful spending by Democrats, until Secretary Tom Vilsack dosed the flames on their BBQ.

Vilsack clarified the purchase, saying it wasn't a two-pound ham but 760,000 pounds of ham that can be distributed in two-pound packages. Whew. The cost per pound immediately went from $600,000 to about $1.50 -- much easier for taxpayers to stomach.

He said the USDA's Farm Service Agency purchased 837,936 pounds of mozzarella cheese and more than 4 million pounds of processed cheese.

"While the principal purpose of these expenditures is to provide food to those hardest hit by these tough times, the purchases also provide a modest economic benefit of benefiting Americans working at food retailers, manufacturers and transportation companies as well as the farmers and ranchers who produce our food supply," Vilsack said in a statement.

So ham-gate has come to a quick and peaceful ending. Now who is going to cough up $240 for some puddin'?

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