Expenditure or stoner idea? Jimmy Kimmel mocks government waste

Giving hope to potheads everywhere.


Rob Price


Published Oct 23, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 8:44 am CDT

Ahead of the upcoming midterms, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has released a “wastebook” profiling what are, in his eyes, the most egregious misuses of government money. With a flashy, digestible design, it’s immediately caught headlines—even if some of the initiatives inside sound almost too outlandish to be true.

When Jimmy Kimmel got wind of this, he decided to test out people’s reactions to some of the government expenditure outlined in the document. Could people tell the difference between genuine uses of the American public’s tax money, and outlandish schemes concocted by stoners? Take a watch:

Don’t believe it? I don’t blame you. But here’s the proof. Can you guess which projects are real and which are made-up by Kimmel’s writers room?

A room full on monkeys playing video games to unlock the secrets of free will#thathappened, right? Well it actually did. It’s part of an ongoing research project that’s cost $171,000 to date, investigating whether monkeys share “our unfounded belief in winning and losing streaks”—and, it seems, they do.

Mountain lions on a treadmill: Item No. 4 in the Wastebook, the federal government has indeed trained big cats to run on treadmills. Led by a professor at the University of California Santa Cruz, it was designed to measure energy consumption in felines during various hunting techniques. And it cost $856,000.

A metal foil that can keep mountains cold: A pot-smoker’s pipe dream, alas.

Teaching synchronzied swimming to sea monkeys: The government really has spent $307,524 on sea monkey research, although it’s not strictly speaking true to say that were “taught.” Instead, the aquatic creatures just instinctively follow light patterns. The study’s findings indicate that sea monkey movement can influence patterns of water flow, a phenomena that researchers believe could have broader implications for manipulating oceanic plankton. 

A microchip that can read a cat’s emotions: A freaking cool idea, but not currently funded by the federal government. 

Other unusual uses of public money outlined in the wastebook includes “poop paks,” New York beer farms, and watching the grass grow (yes, really).

So there you have it. While many of these research projects sound ridiculous at first glance, they do have broader implications that can make their findings of real use to society. 

But still, almost $400,000 on rabbit massages? Time to get some of what Congress is smoking.

Photos via Ruud Hein/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) and Humberto Moreno/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Rob Price

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*First Published: Oct 23, 2014, 9:34 am CDT