Bob Calhoun

Bob Calhoun
Pacifica, California, USA
June 18
Bob Calhoun is a regular contributor to Film Salon and observer of offbeat media. His 2008 punk-wrestling memoir "Beer, Blood and Cornmeal: Seven Years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling" (ECW Press) has spent one entire week on the San Francisco Chronicle's Bay Area bestseller list.

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 26, 2012 3:25AM

Newt Gingrich, the Algae Candidate

Rate: 18 Flag

Newt Gingrich, the Algae Candidate
Newt Gingrich talks algae at the 2012 California Republican Convention in Burlingame on February 25, 2012. (Photo: Bob Calhoun)

NOTE:  Click here to see some more pics of Herman Cain and Gingrich (together they are Caingrich) from the California Republican Convention.

Newt Gingrich is really into algae.

"By the way I'm pro research into algae," he said during his campaign speech today at the California Republican Convention in a suburb of San Francisco where he name checked the stuff that collects in your fish tank ten times. I went there hoping for the space talk like his grandiose plans for making the moon into the 51st state, but instead I heard a lot about algae.

"I think that probably if you did all of the algae development you could, by the end of this decade you could be fueling 12 airplanes, 20 airplanes, 30 airplanes," he said after saying that he "absolutely" wants to do research into algae.

But the real reason that Newt was bringing up our favorite grouping of photosynthetic organisms was to hang so much kelp around President Obama's neck for even speculating on the possibilities of research into it as a potential fuel source, something which Gingrich is actually all for.

While he was riffing on the subject of algae, the former House speaker went into a strange stream of consciousness rant where he verbally grappled with his perception of President Obama's mindset: "The president keeps finding these things which would work someday if only they work, but they don't work. But they should work, and if only they work, we'd really feel much better about them working.  He doesn't want the things that do work, because those things make you feel bad so we can't do the things that do work because we want to do the things that don't work."

What's nuts is that this series of verbal contortions actually generated raucous cheers from the 480 or so Republicans seated in the dining hall of one of those depressing business hotels that's main feature is its closeness to the airport. Now remember, it was only one month ago that Gingrich was campaigning on his permanent colony on the moon and a “continually operating propulsion system capable of getting to Mars within a remarkably short time."

During a speech in Florida on January 25th, he pledged, "by the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American." According to this line also brought cheers from the crowd of 700 people just like his remarks did earlier today. However, less than a week after that Florida speech, Mitt Romney was able win a crushing victory in the Florida primary by questioning the sanity of Gingrich's lunar aspirations, and a few days after that, "Saturday Night Live" reduced Newt's former applause lines to punch lines with a skit titled "Newt Gingrich: Moon President."

So a month ago Gingrich was sounding like the contents of an old issue of "Astounding Science Fiction" from the 1950s, but now the aggrieved candidate is lambasting President Obama for being "out of touch with reality."

"The president is for any fantasy that doesn't work today as opposed to any practical thing that works today," Gingrich added after touting his plan to "drill here, drill now, pay less" that he promises will bring gasoline prices down to $2.50 a gallon.

A month ago, Gingrich bemoaned "being told we have to be limited to technologies that are 50 years old," but today he was just giving us the latest version of "drill baby drill," a Republican gambit that failed John McCain in 2008. Gingrich's touted grandiosity was still there, but it was decidedly more earthbound with his promises that the US could "be the largest oil producer by the end of this decade."

"Bigger than Russia, bigger than Saudi Arabia," he claimed.

Gingrich's strange speaking style and offbeat phrasing was reminding me of something, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it until he uncorked another one of his unique verbal contortions.

"But wind is green so it's good, so it didn't really kill the birds because if it killed the birds it would be bad but it can't be bad because it's good," he said, mocking wind power.

Gingrich was sounding an awful lot like my favorite bit of inane dialog from "The Robot Monster," a 3-D clunker from 1953 where the producers couldn't afford to build a robot prop so they just stuck a guy gorilla suit topped with an antique diving helmet and filmed him wandering around Bronson Caverns.

"I cannot yet I must," Ro-Man the titular Robot Monster moans in a moment of existential crisis, "How do you calculate that? At what point on the graph do must and cannot meet? Yet I must, but I cannot!"

You can take the Newt out of the bad science-fiction, but you can't take the bad science-fiction out of the Newt.

Bob Calhoun is the author of  the bestselling punk-wrestling memoir, Beer, Blood and Cornmeal: Seven Years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling, which is available through You can follow him on Twitter @bob_calhoun.   

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So does all this talk about algae, imply Newt has gone green?
R is for "Ro-Man"
Out on a limb, It would be kind of cool if Newt would turn into algae like Stephen King did in that one segment of "Creepshow."

Still, it was funny how Newt kept feeling the need to qualify his statements on algae by reminding his audience that he's for algae research, like they really cared.
So why is the girl always scantily clad?

Poor Newt. Who lead him to believe that he stood a chance?
@Toritto, Ro-Man does rip the blouse right off of the Hu-Man girl in the film's pulse pounding climax. It made a lot of us feel funny.
"The president keeps finding these things which would work someday if only they work, but they don't work. But they should work, and if only they work, we'd really feel much better about them working. He doesn't want the things that do work, because those things make you feel bad so we can't do the things that do work because we want to do the things that don't work."

He summed it up perfectly there...
Well now . I am reading Vonnegut lately, and then
that gal mz. j. smithee sent me here, and the two (you & him)
blend well together...nice tight piece of
subtly but not overt
sanguine judgement.Rather devastating.

I will certainly review the scientific literature on it
(soon). I gotta say , knowing just enough about Science
to be able to make vague statements regarding it,
that it thrills me to think our slimy friends
can finally achieve some damn purpose in life.
Powering our machines, cool.
Newt is right about the moon.
We all know it, but are afraid to say it.
Malthusian nightmare gonna happen in a hundred yrs.
Gotta go there.

I want a damn Star Trek universe. Even if it's just the Moon
Mars, and us. And perhaps some friendly asteroids
or Jupiter moons. Let's go , dammit!
Algae fueled spaceships?
Is this even possible/
I think there is a tiny robot in his skull, turning the wheel!
Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Who is craziest of us all?

Gingrich? TED? The U.S. Constitution? Socalled 'election politics'? Or us OSers? :-(

Thanks for two nifty posts, Bob!

I just posted a piece talking a bit about the current use of algae as a biofuel. It's being used by the US military in naval and air force planes as jet fuel and on navy ships. Trials have been very successful. And Obama has pushed hard for its continued expansion for military use. They are also using another biofuel as jet fuel derived from the weedy plant camelina. As we all know, the military can have a great impact on what eventually comes to the private sector-consumer markets.

I'd say this has some significant promise.
@Brian Carter, Newt was mostly mocking Obama for supporting alternative fuel sources during this speech, but he kept on hedging on the issue of algae, which made him talk a lot about it.

@James M. Emmerling: I want the United Federation of Planets as much as the next guy, but I don't think a party that hates the United Nations (and wants to bring back child labor, denies global warming, hates public transportation, wants to keep cars getting 8 miles to the gallon, etc. etc.) could ever bring us to this point where moon bases are possible. Even Gingrich's talk of making the moon into the 51st State shows he sees such scientific advancement in purely 19th Century terms. He may as well budget to build wooden forts up there to protect astronauts from Apache raids.

@Old New Lefty: If we could actually get algae up there, then all of Gingrich's plans would be possible. Maybe we should focus more on algae On Mars instead--which sounds like a decent enough title for my mid-1960s science fiction novel.

Thanks everyone for reading and commenting.
@Bob "Newt was mostly mocking Obama for supporting alternative fuel sources "

Oh yeah, I realized that... I was just pointing out some positve progress being made in this area :)
Am I the only one who remembers Lyndon Larouche buying 45 minutes on national TV to talk about sending women to Mars?

Huh? Well? HUH??

@BOKO, the Larouche infomercials I saw always had him talking about how the British Empire controls everything. Some LaRouche people live up the street from me. Some mornings I drive past them as they're cramming their giant Obama with a Hitler mustache signs into their hatchback.
Algae is possible as an energy source, if Gingrich might be better off letting other people bring it up.
There is an active field with a variety of theories applied, or really design techniques, in which one taps into the photosynthetic process in a way not really different from burning wood.
What's even scarier than the verbal diarrhea that Gingrich and Santorum are spouting is the fact that the audiences they speak to raucously applaud this crap. Yup, those people can vote....scary.

Do they ever stop and think about what they are saying? There's no way that could be the case. The quote you have above: "The president keeps finding these things which would work ...", I wouldn't even put gibberish like that in my blog, which doesn't get much attention. He's basically announcing it to the whole country! It's so absurd.

These politicians need to focus on making sense first and politics second.
@Don, That's what was funny about Newt's talking about algae. He wanted to make Obama sound out of touch or delusional, but he couldn't help but double back and start explaining the efficacy of algae. Like he knows there's something there, but his wounded ego still forces him to lash out and criticize his rivals for the same thing he was criticized for such a short time ago (doing research into new technologies that can pay off in 10 years--the very crux of investment in technology in research in the first place). Thanks for reading and commenting.
Sire Newton Leroy Gingrich, deluded father of "Contract on America" (a killing), undoubtedly thinks of himself to be of similar intellectual caliber as Sir Isaac Newton.

A scientist, Sire Gingrich is most certainly not. A pompous bag of retched hot air he is and has been for all of his political life. That said, it is great that he is so carried away by his delusional arrogance that he presumes himself to have what it takes to be U.S. President, else he be wrapped for history in that mid to late 1990's superficial packaging which had him mostly portrayed as something other than the self-righteous, hopelessly egoistic, elitUSt$ pandering organism lacking moral stems and roots and leaves that he is.
Rated for craziness - not yours.

(They're all pond scum!)
Maybe the algae can be convinced to vote for this guy?

Scathing and biting. And that's just my opinion of Newt in three words.

What an interesting read. So, is it possible he's supposed to be taking meds that he's not? As much as I hate this guy (and have since he came to prominence back in the Reagan days) I would never have guessed he'd speak so completely inanely. If you recount his words accurately, it makes me wonder if he's off some meds he isn't telling us about?

Loved the Ro-Man comparison. Can't honestly say I've seen that one, but it does sort of ring a bell or two.

@dunniteowl, when Newt denounces things like algae research (the $14 million Obama is talking about is really nothing on the scale of the Fed budget), wind power, etc., he does so without a concern for our water supply, global warming, childhood asthma rates or endangered species. It's all about making sure Americans have the "freedom to buy the car they want." Having access to healthcare or education, not so important, but having the right to buy a car that only gets 8 miles to the gallon is our nation's only concern. Of course he also was against the auto bailout, so I guess that these Americans needing this freedom, would now be buying these cars from Hyundai or Mitsubishi. My brain crumbles. I'm watching the Robot Monster again. thanks for commenting.
It's so striking that people will applaud these lines that make no sense at all. You almost have to come back to the question of George W.--where we all asked ourselves if he were really as unintelligent as he seemed, or if his schtick were an elaborate ruse to disguise the mind of a whacky genius. With Gingrich it is more a question of looniness, but I find myself asking the same thing.