Eric "Young Gun" Cantor, the Republican House Majority Leader from Henrico County, seemed older and out-gunned Wednesday when new Republican members in the GOP-controlled House voted 233-198 to kill an alternative engine for the new F-35 strike fighter that even the Pentagon didn't want.
More than half of the new Congressmen voted against the engine that the House's older leadership, represented by Cantor and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, worked desperately to keep in the federal budget.
Their reason? Pure pork. The alternative engines would be built jointly by Rolls Royce, which has its North American headquarters in Virginia, and in Ohio where partner General Electric has big manufacturing plants. The House decided to drop the alternative and go with the main supplier, Pratt & Whitney, thus saving $450 million.
One place you won't read the story is the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which ran a wire service piece about the vote but (predictably) left out any mention of the role of Prince Eric, whom the newspaper deeply loves and whose wife, Diana, serves on the board of parent firm Media General.
The irony is that Cantor had cast himself in a book he co-wrote called "Young Guns" last year that depicted himself as a youthful, vibrant, deficit and budget-cutting kind of guy. It was meant to play in the mid-term elections which saw a number of GOP victories, such as recapturing the House. The bad guy was free-spending President Barack Obama, who also asked to cut the second jet engine and save billions.
Now, however, it seems that some of those even younger "Young Guns" have the gumption to stand up to oldster such as Cantor and Boehner. Backed the the Tea Party movement, some actually believe it when they say they want to cut the federal budget, and that means Pentagon sacred cows.
Odder still is that this particular sacred cow is something to military does not want. They seem happy with the P&W engine for the new fighter jets that will be used buy the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The 2,443 airplanes will cost $382 billion. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that not adding the extra engine will eventually save $3 billion.
For further news, one place not to look is the Richmond Times Dispatch.