There’s no point in beating around the bush on this one, if you’ll pardon the pun. We should probably get right to the bottom of this fowl story.

WASHINGTON: Patricia Brennan received $384,949 from the U.S. government to study duck genitalia.

Last month, that made her a national joke. Now, it’s made her a little bit of a folk hero…

The federal grant that started this controversy is tiny, at least among the big numbers of the federal budget. The National Science Foundation, which gave her the grant in 2009, got $5.9 billion for all its research this year.

But these debates are about choices embedded in the federal budget. As in: If nobody else will provide funding to study the secrets of duck genitals, does the government have a moral obligation to do it?