Memo to GOP: Avoid Newt Gingrich like the plague

Would Republicans nominate a presidential candidate who pushes thoroughly-debunked biofuel nonsense? Were the party to select Newt Gingrich, it will have nominated, in The Wall Street Journal‘s words, “Professor Cornpone.”

Professor Cornpone hasn’t yet officially announced, but he is running for President.

In a recent speech to ethanol lobbyists, Gingrich alleged that criticism of the heavily taxpayer-subsidized corn ethanol industry constitutes “big-city attacks” aimed at robbing rural Americans of their chance at prosperity. An over-the-top, class-divisive, vitriol-spewing progressive couldn’t have said it better–or worse, depending on perspective.

Gingrich added, “Obviously big urban newspapers want to kill [the corn ethanol subsidy program] because it’s working, and you wonder, ‘What are their values?'”

Indeed, Mr. Gingrich’s values seem to exclude truth. The efficacy of ethanol as an additive to automotive fuel and a “solution” to global warming has been totally debunked. Gingrich comes off as a fallacy-spreading, political pandering fool for continuing to push for biofuel corn crops to replace food crops. And Gingrich’s motive for advancing falsehoods is simple: win votes in corn country.

The WSJ exposes the extent of Gingrich’s intellectual dishonesty and the selectiveness of the man’s memory.

Of course, the ethanol boom isn’t due to the misallocation of resources that always stalks inflation. It is the result of decades of deliberate industrial policy, as Mr. Gingrich well knows. In 1998, then Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer tried to kill ethanol’s subsidies for good, only to land in the wet cement that Speaker Gingrich had poured.

Yet today this now-mature industry enjoys far more than cash handouts, including tariffs on foreign competitors and a mandate to buy its product. Supporters are always inventing new reasons for these dispensations, like carbon benefits (nonexistent, according to the greens and most scientific evidence) and replacing foreign oil (imports are up). An historian of Mr. Gingrich’s distinction surely knows all that.

Gingrich knows the truth. But being on the campaign trail appears to bring out the worst in Newt. In light of President Obama’s State-of-the-Union push for yet more taxpayer subsidies for mostly worthless “green” technology, the Journal adds:

So along comes Mr. Gingrich to offer his support for Mr. Obama’s brand of green-energy welfare, undermining House Republicans in the process. In his Iowa speak-power-to-truth lecture, he even suggested that the government should mandate that all new cars in the U.S. be flex-fuel vehicles—meaning those that can run on an ethanol-gas mix as high as 85%—as if King Corn were in any danger of being deposed.

Yet there are currently dozens of flex-fuel models on the market, and auto makers already get a benefit if they sell them, via the prior fuel-economy mandates that did so much to devastate Detroit. The problem is consumers rarely want to pay more for flex-fuel cars when they get 25% to 30% fewer miles per gallon with E85, according to Energy Department data.

The GOP needs reality-based strength to lead it into the White House in 2012. A candidate who embraces honesty, facts, and reason must face down Obama. Newt Gingrich is not that person.

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