Seeing a federal judge sentence Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., to eight years in prison may have sobered some people up. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion for accepting $2.4 million in bribes for steering defense contracts to MZM Inc.

And the bloggers on the Internet, led by Daily Kos on the left and Instapundit on the right, are demanding better transparency on the budget. It is their money. They want to know where their money goes.

Byrd may be agreeing with them. It is hard to tell.

This week, Byrd made an eloquent defense of secret appropriations by senior senators who are wiser than their colleagues on the spending of the federal dollar.

But he also seemed to say he will change the earmark process.

I’ll always remember Byrd for this speech, but maybe if he does something about earmarks that’ll change. I guess it could happen: Only Nixon could go to China, right? I like this observation, too: “How safe is a seat in Congress? When Democrats lost control of the House in 1994, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., lost his gig as House appropriations chairman. This month, Obey returned as appropriations chairman.”