Ol’ Fred Thompson has decided that ethanol’s great after all, even though he voted against subsidies as an allegedly-small-government conservative in the Senate. Why, Fred? We know it can’t be a craven pander to Iowa voters, so what’s the explanation?

“I have voted against subsidies in the Senate,” said Thompson. “But I think it’s a matter now of national security and we’ve got to avail ourselves of a lot of different resources, and I think renewable has to be a part of that picture.”

Uh … what? Can you explain, perhaps in English?

Thompson noted the difference in oil prices today compared to when he was a senator from 1994 to 2002.

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“When I was in the Senate, I think oil was at $23 a barrel,” said Thompson.

Oil now is about $80 a barrel.

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Uh … what? I realize this is an article about ethanol so it’s a waste of time pointing out that that makes no $%*@! sense, but that makes no $%*@! sense. If the price for oil is higher, that means there should be more demand for ethanol and thus less need for government subsidies. No? “Your competitor’s price has risen, so it’s become vital to subsidize you.” Does he think we’re retarded?

Thompson said turbulence in oil-producing regions of the world have added urgency to the push for energy independence.

“Our need to move toward energy independence has become absolute,” said Thompson. “So much of our energy depends on troubled spots in the world. It’s just a different environment.”

Uh … what? We get most of our oil from Canada and Mexico, and they seem fairly non-turbulent these days. And if he’s talking about the Middle East … can you remind me when over the last century there wasn’t turbulence in the Middle East?

Sigh. Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians could put at least a skosh of effort toward coming up with non-absurd justifications for corn ethanol subsidies? At least pretend you’re not pandering.

Thompson’s a dim bulb, so he can’t thread the needle as well as the rest of them, but none of them have a coherent explanation. It’s like we’ve collectively abandoned the notion that we even need to justify handing over taxpayer money to ADM. It’s just what we do.