PELOSI’S POPULARITY…. The headline makes it sound like the public has turned on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “CNN Poll: Pelosi facing Gingrich-like approval ratings.” The truth is a little less alarming.

As Nancy Pelosi continues to face a firestorm over what she may have known about aggressive government interrogation techniques, and when, a new survey has more unpleasant news for the House Speaker.

Nearly half of all Americans — 48 percent — disapprove of how the California Democrat she is handling her job as Speaker of the House in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Monday, while 39 percent approve of her performance.

The headline about Pelosi’s “Gingrich-like approval ratings” comes from the fact that Gingrich, in his first year as Speaker, had a 37% approval rating, which is just slightly behind Pelosi’s rating now.

But that’s not the whole story. In 1995, Gingrich’s first year, Americans were just learning who he was and what kind of “leader” would be. Pelosi, however, has already been Speaker for more than two years. In an apples-to-apples comparison — Pelosi after two years vs. Gingrich after two years — the California Democrat is nowhere near “Gingrich-like approval ratings.” Pelosi is at 39%, while the disgraced Georgia Republican was at 25%.

What’s more, I have a follow-up question (or two) for CNN: if Gingrich is the template for wildly unpopular politicians, why is it that every time Newt Gingrich pops off, CNN treats it as an important political development? Indeed, the guy’s been out of office for more than a decade. If he set a low bar in the 1990s, and it’s considered a humiliation to have support anywhere near his in-office poll numbers, then why does CNN place so much significance in his random and incoherent screeds?

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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.