David Gregory just referred to that on MSNBC. He said it's the tradition McCain shares with such Republican icons as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan (who was from Iowa, right?).
Yeah, right. The American West, where I've lived for almost 40 years, this land where men are men and horses are surprisingly rare, was built on government handouts and continues to depend on them for survival - from cavalry outposts and virtually free grazing on public lands and virtually free rights of way for the railroads to today's interstate highways and water projects. I don't feel like looking it up, so I'll just assert (because I'm pretty sure it's true) that Westerners receive more government support of various kinds per capita than people in any other region of the country.
I guess we're just better at posturing than those other people.