McCain's visit to XNA is somewhat surprising, considering that back in April 1997, when he was Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, he ordered the Government Accounting Office to investigate Federal Aviation Administration funding procedures related to the airport. McCain demanded the audit of the airport after watching a February 21st report by John Stossel on ABC's 20/20, which concluded the project was a boondoggle, railroaded through the FAA by such powerful
"The sloppiness of the FAA's decision-making process on this project has been disappointing," McCain complained after reviewing the investigation, noting that the auditors discovered "shortcomings" in the process the FAA used to award nearly $70 million in grants that the airport either had received or was due to receive. McCain charged that the project was allowed to take advantage of special bureaucratic shortcuts designed to speed funding only for "projects that would significantly enhance the capacity of the national airport system," and the remote cow pasture in Bill Clinton's home state hardly qualified.
Stan Green, Chairman of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority back then, responded, "It sounds like the Senator's opinion of the project is not high." However, McCain seems to have flip-flopped now, since it will be convenient for getting to that $500-a-head reception in Rogers and taking campaign contributions from those corporate freeloaders.