Timing is everything. It's one of the immutable laws of politics and helps explain some of Sen. Jim Inhofe's current frustration with the White House. Inhofe, R-Tulsa, has been a prime mover behind a $23 billion water projects bill that would bring $140 million to Oklahoma. In a rare outbreak of consensus this week, the bill passed the Senate 81-12 — yet is threatened with a presidential veto because it contains too many items the Bush administration considers unnecessary. Inhofe doesn't disagree but wonders why the White House is picking a fight now — one it probably will lose, given vote margins in the Senate and House — before Congress actually starts appropriating funds. The bill is authorizing legislation; without a corresponding appropriation, Inhofe notes, the bill is mostly symbolic. He told The Oklahoman's Chris Casteel that President Bush, who went his first 5 years in office without vetoing anything, should save veto threats for actual spending bills. We understand both sides of the argument. The White House says there's too much spending being authorized and that a number of projects are outside the purview of the federal government. White House officials contend "fiscal irresponsibility” should be addressed when it surfaces. But the administration's ability to fend off ill-conceived spending later on will be weakened if the president's veto — premature in Inhofe's opinion — is overwhelmingly overridden. There's no question the water bill contains money for important projects. As Casteel reports, Inhofe got $30 million included to complete relocation of Tar Creek-area residents, as well as a provision that would save Edmond $10 million in its Arcadia Lake dispute with the Corps of Engineers. The real issue is keeping worthy projects on track while weeding out those of questionable merit, an effort Inhofe believes will be hampered by an early, unsuccessful veto. We think he's right.