Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is no fan of earmarks, but she does love pork.

The freshman senator, an ardent backer of earmark reforms, went out of her way last week to express her cravings for pork.

Following testimony from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on swine flu, McCaskill said, “No one can contract H1N1 from eating pork. Pork is delicious.

“You can go bacon if you’re not on a diet,” she mused, “You can go lean, too. If you are on a diet, pork rules.”

In short, declared the Show-Me State senator, “There is no reason to avoid pork.”

The transcript of the hearing does not reveal facial expressions, but it’s not a stretch to think that Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) was feeling a bit awkward.

The kosher chairman tried to break in, saying, “Unless, of course ... ”

McCaskill cut him off. Apparently missing the religious angle, she tried to finish the chairman’s sentence, “Unless [it’s] an earmark.”

Lieberman tried again, but no sooner had he said “And let’s not ... ” than McCaskill repeated her punch line: “Unless [it’s] an earmark.” (Wrong again, senator.)

“Unless, of course,” he tried for the third time, “you respond to a higher authority.” But McCaskill still didn’t get it.

“Mr. Chairman,” she said to Lieberman, “You won’t get H1N1 [from eating pork].”

“This has nothing to do with H1N1,” Lieberman explained, clearly a little peeved.

McCaskill finally got it, but was unfazed: “But just to clarify, even with the higher authority ... ” she continued.

At this point, Lieberman apparently gave up.

“Correct. Absolutely correct,” he cut her off, “Thanks, Sen. McCaskill.”

Delaware Sen. Tom Carper (D), a centrist who is known for finding common ground, plugged what his state has to offer: “For those responding to a higher authority or for those who are just somewhat leery of eating pork, sometimes a guy who comes from where there’s 300 chickens for every person … ”