Michael Kinsley famously referred to a “gaffe” as a moment when a politician accidentally tells the truth. E&E brings us a hilarious example today (sadly behind a paywall).

You may recall that the other day, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held the four-gazillionth hearing on Solyndra and the DOE’s clean-energy loan-guarantee program, during which lawmakers spent their time repeatedly badgering DOE Secretary Steven Chu to give himself a letter grade. Yes, really.

At this point, everyone knows that there’s not going to be any wrongdoing uncovered. After over a year of investigations, many thousands of pages of documents, testimony from dozens of people, a half-dozen hearing, there’s … nothing.

The investigation has long since become about hurting Obama’s election chances and discrediting clean energy. It’s a political disagreement masquerading as a show trial.

Anyway, everyone knows this, including the journalists who cover it, but you’re not really supposed to say so out loud. So … oopsie:

For all the talk over possible “smoking guns” that might show some wrongdoing on the part of the Obama administration on Solyndra or another Department of Energy loan, one House Republican acknowledged yesterday that multiple GOP probes on the subject are in some ways a play for votes on Election Day.

In an interview after as he left yet another hearing in which Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified about the controversial loan program for clean energy companies, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said that — smoking gun or not — Republicans are finding value in drawing attention to the more controversial aspects of the loan guarantee program.

“Our staff will continue to dig into it and see,” Jordan said. “But what I hope happens is we stop doing these kind of things … this whole cronyism approach to the marketplace.

“Ultimately, we’ll stop it on Election Day, hopefully. And bringing attention to these things helps the voters and citizens of the country make the kind of decision that I hope helps them as they evaluate who they are going to vote for in November.”

There you have it.