Principles can be a pain – especially when you have to actually stand by them.

Take that growing number of health care reform opponents. A whopping 20 states have banded together to sue the federal government in a bid to overturn the landmark health care legislation.

Hardly a march to Montgomery, but, hey, times change. We’ve gone from peaceful law breaking to petty lawsuits, class struggles to class actions.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the courthouse. Before the ink even had time to dry, we find out that seven of those states – more than a third – are eagerly gobbling at the trough of borrowed federal funds. (Who knew so many states loved Chinese food?)

That’s right. The Associated Press reports that Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska and Nevada – all plaintiffs suing to stop an overreaching federal government – are happily pocketing subsidies meant for covering retired state employee benefits. The legislations earmarked $5 billion to help fill the so-called Medicare doughnut hole.

Sure, it’s only meant to plug the gap until 2014, but if you think that $5 billion will last another four years, then I’ve got a house in Las Vegas you might be interested in.

Make no mistake; I’m as opposed to the legislation as I was six months ago. But I’m not shaking my finger with one hand while the other’s stuffed in the cookie jar.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his 1953 inaugural address, declared, “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” So, tell me, aside from rancor and rhetoric, what have we got left?