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US Sen. Jeff Flake report finds hamster cage fights to be money poorly spent

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PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona is such an advocate of spending taxpayer money smartly that he will not let a good pun go to waste.

The Republican has released the latest edition of the Wastebook, an annual report that lays out the amount of money the government doles out on various studies and projects.

This year’s report, he told KTAR’s Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday, called “Porkemon Go”, seemed like a natural fit, alluding to the old political phrase “pork-barrel spending.”

A previous report was titled, “The Farce Awakens.”

Flake released findings Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation.

The report lists 50 oddball-sounding projects that added up to more than $5 billion.

One of them: $74 million for a program that allows taxpayer-backed loans to be repaid with peanuts.

“The government buys (them) back at above-market rates. … That’s just nuts,” Flake said.

Others tagged in the report:

• $3.4 million for hamster cage fight matches

• $450,000 to determine if dinosaurs could sing

• $1.7 million for a comedy club starring holograms of dead comedians

• $1.5 million to test the endurance of a fish on a treadmill

• $5 million to study the drinking habits of fraternities and sororities

• $460,000 for a computer to binge-watch “Desperate Housewives” and “The Office” to predict human behavior

• $3.5 million to learn why people are afraid of going to the dentist

Former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) began the list of earmarks and Flake picked up the baton after the outspoken and fiscally conservative Coburn retired in 2014.

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