Less than five years ago, President Obama and his supporters were positively taunting three Republican governors who chose to forfeit federal stimulus money that had been earmarked for high-speed rail lines in their states. Rick Scott of Florida, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin were supposedly costing their states needed jobs and, shockingly, giving away free money.

The Los Angeles Times went so far as to mock the voters of Wisconsin and Ohio in 2010 for electing Walker and Kasich, who had both promised to scrap the high-speed lines that their Democratic predecessors had approved. The Times' editorialists smugly celebrated the fact that California would be getting the biggest share of that cash instead for its own high-speed rail project.

"The Golden State is more than willing to relieve you of the burden of all that free cash," the editors wrote, jubilantly. "Thanks a billion, Cheeseheads."

Today, those same editors are choking on crow. And those governors look like geniuses, at least for this choice.

California's high-speed rail project, once highly touted by President Obama, has become an albatross. Its official cost estimates have only doubled since voters originally approved the train in 2008, but more realistic voices (including a former Democratic chairman of the state Senate transportation committee) believe it will cost taxpayers as much as ten times the original estimate of $33 billion to complete. Meanwhile, the plans for the rail line's urban paths are meeting stiff resistance as more details become available.

These are just a few reasons why State Sen. Andy Vidak, a Republican, has attracted bipartisan support for his bill to give the state's voters a chance to reconsider the whole thing.

If it ever gets off the ground, California's high-speed rail line will fail for precisely the reasons Scott, Kasich and Walker declined to build such lines in their states. California's line has so far failed to attract the $3 billion in private investment that is a condition for receiving the matching federal money.

California's planners have managed to avoid the issue of the massive operating subsidies inevitably required for such lines worldwide because they have adopted rosy ridership estimates — they're counting on this train carrying roughly half as many annual passengers as Amtrak currently carries on all routes nationwide — and assuming they can charge fares up to twice as high as originally promised. They falsely claim that the train will improve congestion (the true number of cars it takes off any particular section of road at any given time of day will be negligible) and exaggerate the environmental benefits.

In actual fact, passenger buses are greener than high speed rail when it comes to carbon emissions — and unlike passenger rail, they are also economically feasible. But of course, no minor subsidy or incentive for bus lines can satisfy liberal politicians' tendency toward romanticizing big government. In order to excite the masses with their vision, they need an enormous, expensive toy.

If Vidak gets his way, California voters will at least have a chance to put the toys away. We hope he succeeds.