*The gift that keeps on giving

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING…. After far too many foot-in-mouth controversies, RNC Chairman Michael Steele has reportedly “called a halt to his television appearances” and “curtailed national media interviews,” in order to focus his energies on internal work at party headquarters.

That seems wise. The more Steele spoke, the more he embarrassed himself. The less we see of Steele, the happier the Republican establishment will be with his “leadership.”

Except, there’s a catch to all of this: Steele did some interviews before he decided to pull back, and they’re still being published. Last week, a GQ interview, in which Steele seemed to endorse a woman’s right to an abortion, caused the party all kinds of discomfort. Today, the Huffington Post reports on Steele filling in last week as a guest host of Bill Bennett’s nationally syndicated conservative radio show.

In a virtually unnoticed two-hour tour-de-force, the Maryland Republican sat in for the conservative talker on March 6, right as the controversy over his statements on Rush Limbaugh reached its height. And Steele didn’t disappoint, lambasting Republicans for inserting earmarks in the omnibus, comparing Barack Obama to Richard Nixon, describing the current political climate “Armageddon between conservatism and liberalism” and Rahm Emanuel as a “master manipulator,” saying the globe was cooling rather than warming, and touting the importance of education only to misstate a prominent historical figure’s name.

“I love this battle because what I see right now is leading to the ultimate political Armageddon between conservatism and liberalism,” Steele declared at one point. “And the idea that free enterprise, free markets, free people are going to battle an oppressive, repressive, domineering government. I love that. That’s what we are lining up for you folks. So you better get ready, strap it on, because it’s coming. And you better pick your sides, you better choose now.”

It’s worth listening to the audio, because one thing jumps out at the listener. Michael Steele … how do I put this gently … isn’t smart.

For example, Steele insisted that evidence of global warming is “part of the cooling process.” To help prove his point, the RNC chairman said, “Greenland, which is covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this.”

Later in the show, Steele added, “Education is key…. If we understand the difference between Marxism, socialism and capitalism; if we understand the difference between a Roberto Mussolini, an Adolf Hitler, and a Franklin Roosevelt, and his honor the honorable Winston Churchill, if we know those differences than we can appreciate what these times mean. And how history is a precursor of things to come.”

I think he meant Benito Mussolini.

“Education is key,” indeed.