Time to pack up the Solyndra circus, boys. (Photo by Thomas Totz.)

No one is more invested in seeing the Solyndra investigation continue to produce “news” than Politico, so it’s significant that reporter (and Solyndra devotee) Darren Samuelsohn has basically called it. After over a year, Republicans have turned up nothing, as this sad excerpt makes clear:

“Is there a criminal activity? Perhaps not,” Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa told POLITICO after last Tuesday’s showdown with Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Is there a political influence and connections? Perhaps not. Did they bend the rules for an agenda, an agenda not covered within the statute? Absolutely.”

The agenda was to give innovative clean energy companies the best possible chance to survive and thrive. It’s difficult to see how that’s not “covered” in a statute establishing a loan guarantee program to give innovative clean energy companies the best possible chance to survive and thrive.

Anyway, this is as close to a declaration of surrender as Issa will ever issue. Meanwhile, it looks like the other House Solyndra ringmaster, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), is guilty of birtherism and possibly bribery. It’s a shambles.

The very next paragraph of Samuelsohn’s story, however, is even more sad:

In some respects, Republicans have accomplished their mission. Even if no one goes to jail, they’ve turned Solyndra into a four-letter word, vilified the Nobel laureate Chu and left a popular DOE program in shambles. They also make no bones about how they’ve turned Solyndra into a campaign issue.

There’s an element of surreality to this. The GOP could not have deployed Solyndra to such great political effect without the active complicity of the media, which chased every shiny bauble Stearns and Issa tossed past them, writing again and again as though there already was a scandal. But there wasn’t — there never was. It was always a policy difference being legislated through a witch hunt.

Maybe the Politico story signals that everyone in D.C. finally gets that, or rather, is finally allowed to say so out loud. But that doesn’t mean Republicans will stop.

“The fact Republicans couldn’t find anything didn’t keep them from using this issue and going over it over and over again,” said Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). “So I don’t know if they’re ever going to come to an end. I think they’ll come to an end when the Democrats take their place as the leaders of the committee and set our own agenda.”

“If I say it’s tapered out, it’ll only encourage them to get all revved up again,” Waxman added.

If it’s not Solyndra, it will be some other sideshow. After all, they keep learning over and over again that it works.