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Jindal Versus The Volcano

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With Monday's massive volcano eruption in Alaska likely to leave Anchorage and Gov. Sarah Palin's hometown covered in ash, a Democratic strategist sends over the reminder that just a month and a half ago, another up-and-coming Republican star, Gov. Bobby Jindal, mocked the very notion of volcano monitoring.

Speaking in the non-State of the Union rebuttal, the Louisiana Republican said that instead of spending $140 million "for something called 'volcano monitoring,'" Congress "should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C."

It was a comment not well received among geological experts and one that now seems to pit Jindal against Palin on a minor but important spending provision.

Then and now, the U.S. Geological Survey, which will receive the stimulus money for volcano monitoring, had been keeping track of several active volcanoes across the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii and, of course, Alaska.

And the agency's efforts seemed to pay off. As early as February 6, indeed, residents of cities near Mt. Redoubt were preparing for a volcano eruption because of information gleaned from early monitoring systems. As reported by USA Today, taxicab drivers were replacing air filters more frequently and local citizens began purchasing dust masks and preparing to be stuck inside their homes for lengthy periods of time.

Many Alaskans took issue with Jindal's comment, the Anchorage Daily News reported. "Of course Alaskans want to know if a volcano is going to blow," a Palin press aide told the paper.

A call to Governor Jindal's office for comment was not returned.