Campaigning in Tennessee yesterday, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich decided to revisit a subject most in his party had already given up on.
"Algae," Gingrich confirmed. "I think this is a 'Saturday Night Live' skit. You don't often get presidential speeches that could literally be delivered on 'Saturday Night Live' and you wouldn't realize it was a fake. But presidents are supposed to, like, run the country today," said Gingrich, a futurist who has been mocked fairly mercilessly on "Saturday Night Live" for his embrace of exploration that could lead to a moon colony."Maybe we should, as an experiment, get some algae and go to a gas station, and you know, sort of the 'Barack Solution.' Would you like some algae instead of gasoline? This is the kind of stuff that's Cloud Cuckoo Land," said Gingrich.
Even by Gingrich standards, this is just sad.
Two weeks ago, President Obama spoke in Miami about energy policy, touting his "all-of-the-above" agenda, and sharing his comprehensive vision. Towards the end of the speech, he mentioned, "We're making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that's actually made from a plant-like substance -- algae."
What's wrong with that? Nothing. Among those who take energy policy seriously, the biofuel reference was routine and expected. It's not an 'SNL' skit; Obama didn't suggest filling your car's gas tank with algae; and the whole subject matter was rather unremarkable.
Indeed, the irony of all of this is that a variety of prominent Republican officials in both the House and Senate have been enthusiastic supporters of funding algae research. If Obama's in "Cloud Cuckoo Land," he's hanging out there with GOP policymakers, industry leaders, and experts in energy policy.
Does Gingrich not understand the basics of biofuel research, or does he assume that Republican primary voters are easily fooled with nonsense?
Finally, if there's anyone in American politics who should avoid discussions of "Cloud Cuckoo Land," it's Newton Leroy Gingrich. The disgraced former House Speaker has, after all, talked about defeating North Korea with space lasers, giving laptops to the homeless, touting the benefits of old-school orphanages for children, and fearing the scourge of atheistic Islamists.
Biofuel research is both reasonable and routine, and in comparison to Gingrich's agenda, it's about as common as the sunrise.