Newt’s moon colony — the gift that keeps on giving

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Comedians everywhere surely could not have been more thrilled last week when Republican White House hopeful Newt Gingrich laid out his plans for a permanent colony on the moon, with the long-term goal of making it the 51st U.S. state. “By the end of my second term we will have the first permanent base on the moon,” Gingrich said to thundering applause at the NASA stronghold of Cocoa, Florida.

That includes the copywriters at Team Mitt Romney, for whom Gingrich’s proposed moon program is the gift that keeps on giving. Following up on an email over the weekend entitled “Earth to Newt: Tell the Truth,” the Romney Press Shop sent out the following missive on Thursday: “Ground Control to Major Newt: Nevada needs jobs, not a moon colony,” which reminded the former U.S. House speaker that unemployment in the Silver State is still running at 12.6 percent and nearly six in ten mortgaged homes in the state are under water.

Predictably, Comedy Central political satirists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were quick to ridicule the moon colony. Stewart accused Gingrich of wanting to be “Lunar Trump” by starting a colony the size of a condo development. “And like Earth Trump, you will not be President,” he said. Colbert mocked Gingrich’s idea that the moon could become a manufacturing hub. “America will bring manufacturing to the moon. Ohio? Out of luck.”

Late night comedian David Letterman made hay with Gingrich’s moon plans on Monday night — perhaps the last thing that some Florida voters heard on the night before the state’s primary election. “Newt Gingrich wants to build a colony on the moon. If Newt Gingrich is president I’m going to the colony on the moon,” Letterman quipped, adding that Gingrich proposes to “spend $20 billion to study the effect of gravity on double chins. “

Gingrich has written in the past of his admiration for Hari Seldon, the fictional hero of author Issac Asimov’s “Foundation Series” of science fiction novels. Seldon, a mathematics professor on the far-off planet Trantor, uses “psychohistory” to predict the future in probabilistic terms, including the eventual fall of the Galactic Empire.

As a Seldon devotee, when he promised the moon a week ago, perhaps Gingrich should have seen this coming.

Photo credit: Newt Gingrich gestures during a campaign appearance at a restaurant in Reno, Nevada, February 1, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith