Why does Jim DeMint refuse to fight for earmarks? Simply because he can afford not to.

The Seattle TImes has done the legwork for us on the latest Defense Authorization Bill and the mountain of earmarks shoved in that thing.

We’re going to be highlighting a few of the more interesting South Carolina items, but the first that stuck out to us was a hefty $23,000 that Sen. Jim DeMint received in campaign contributions over the last five years from Eastman Chemical.The Tennessee company received $4 million in earmark spending.

But, even though DeMint wasn’t involved in that request and, presumably, didn’t lobby for the company, Eastman has contributed more to his campaign than all but two other congressmen: Lamar Alexander, of the company’s home state of Tennessee, who got $25,700, and Frederick Boucher of Virginia, with $24,000. Fourth is a distant $15,000 to Zach Wamp, also of Tennessee.

With $200,474 in total contributions from companies that benefited from defense earmarks, DeMint outpaces every other South Carolina representative, except for Congressman John Spratt. He’s even got nearly twice the total contributions to Barack Obama’s campaign and John McCain, that other no earmark guy, took in only $18,000 from companies with earmarks.

So, why is McCain a pariah to these folks and DeMint’s the golden child?