KEEP ON TALKING, NEWT…. About a fifth of the country no doubt found all of this hysterical nonsense quite compelling.

In an interview that was fiery even by his standards, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accused the Obama administration of coddling terrorists, tarred the idea of investigating the Bush administration as modern day “McCarthyism,” and falsely charged that the Democratic-controlled Congress never tried to outlaw torture.

It was, if nothing else, an unrestrained tour de force in oppositional politics. Sitting down with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Gingrich claimed that the former firm of Attorney General Eric Holder had represented 17 alleged terrorists on a pro-bono basis. “For no fee,” he added, for good measure. “It is the largest single thing they were doing for free, defending Yemenis.”

Firms like Holder’s Covington & Burling, of course, have represented alleged terrorist under the notion that everyone deserves a legal defense, not out of some shared ideology or political sympathies. But context and clarification weren’t Gingrich’s order of business on Sunday. There was, he claimed, a “weird pattern” of Democratic administrations “defending alleged terrorists,” as opposed to Bush officials, who “defend[ed] Americans.”

“You look at the Obama administration,” he said, “the number of attorneys that have been appointed who were defending alleged terrorists. There’s this weird pattern where the Bush people wanted to defend Americans and were pretty tough on terrorists. These guys are prepared to take huge risks with Americans in order to defend terrorists.”

The disgraced former House Speaker went on to ironically accuse the Obama administration of McCarthyism, accuse Democrats of launching “a bitter a partisan attack” against Bush administration officials, accuse the White House of “putting alleged terrorists on welfare,” and accuse the president of supporting “the right of the abortionists to kill babies still alive.”

It was as if the poor man was suffering some kind of ideological breakdown, sputtering right-wing talking points at a rapid clip, whether they made sense or related to the question or not. It was like watching a popcorn maker erupt, only the sound of kernels popping usually makes more sense than this clown.

Here’s hoping Gingrich is able to get the help he clearly needs.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.