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Newt's algae investment

March 15, 2012: 12:13 PM ET

Gingrich hasn't always mocked algae-based energy.

Newt Gingrich this week opened up a new line of attack on President Obama's energy policy, mocking Obama's recent comment that fuels are being developed from algae. From a speech Gingrich gave to supporters in Tennessee on Monday night:

The President said we have to be practical. Drilling won't solve it. And then he offered his practical solution. Anybody here remember what it was?  Algae. Algae. I mean I think this summer as gas prices keep going up, one of our campaign techniques should be to go to gas stations with jar of algae and say to people would you rather have the Gingrich solution of drilling and having more oil or would you like to try to put this in your gas tank. I'm amazed that SNL hasn't taken that speech and turned that into a skit. You can't make this stuff up. But what made it really totally and intellectually incoherent.

You know what's coming next: Gingrich used to hold interests in a company that developed algae-based biofuels.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based startup was called GreenFuel Technologies Corp., which raised more than $70 million in venture capital funding before closing its doors in 2009. Among its largest backers was Draper Fisher Jurvetson, through a fund in which Gingrich was a limited partner.

It certainly is true that Gingrich didn't personally make the GreenFuel investment decision, but he did choose to back the DFJ management team that believed in GreenFuel. Does that mean Gingrich now believes folks like Tim Draper and Steve Jurvetson are "intellectually incoherent?" And, if so, doesn't that throw Gingrich's own judgment into doubt?

Or does Gingrich still reserve exclusive, algae-based distain for Obama, because he continues to support the technology despite GreenFuel's failure. If so, has Gingrich noticed that algae-focused Solazyme (SZYM) is still a going concern, after having raised millions from fossil fuel producers like ExxonMobil (XOM)?

I guess this is kind of like Gingrich calling for Energy Secretary Chu to be fired for "mismanagement and potential corruption" in a Department of Energy loan for Solyndra, even though Gingrich -- via DFJ -- has plenty of current investment interests in other companies that received DoE loans under the same program. Or his dismissal of electric cars, despite having had interests in both Tesla Motors (TSLA) and Reva Electric Car. In other words, hypocrisy.

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About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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