‘IT’S NOT IN THE BILL’…. The health care discussion between Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” yesterday was pretty good, and it covered a fair amount of ground in a short period of time. There was one exchange, though, that stood out for me.

Stephanopoulos had just finished highlighting Sarah Palin’s bizarre attack on reform, including her allegation that President Obama wants to create a “death panel” as part of a “downright evil” system. The disgraced former House Speaker jumped in.

GINGRICH: But why — why didn’t you put up what Dr. Zeke Emanuel said? Because Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who’s the chief adviser to the president and brother of the chief of staff, said in writing…

STEPHANOPOULOS: He’s not the chief health care adviser. He’s written three articles between 1996 and 2008 that include some of those phrases…

GINGRICH: Communal standards.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Those phrases appear nowhere in the bill. The only thing…let me just explain what’s in the bill and then get you to respond to that. The only thing in the bill is they would allow Medicare to pay for what they say is voluntary counseling on end-of-life issues.

GINGRICH: I think people are very concerned, when you start talking about cost controls, that a bureaucracy — we don’t — you’re asking us to trust the government…. Communal standards historically is a very dangerous concept.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s not in the bill.

There are a few interesting angles to this. Notice that Gingrich just casually insisted that Ezekiel Emanuel is “the chief adviser to the president.” He was lying, and Stephanopoulos called him on it. Instead of acknowledging the error, Gingrich kept going, blasting a policy that isn’t in the bill, and rationalizing his baseless attack by arguing that the public is “very concerned.”

Well, perhaps Americans are “very concerned” because people like Gingrich keep making arguments that aren’t true.

For that matter, the attacks on Dr, Emanuel’s work can’t stand up to scrutiny anyway.

Stephanopoulos deserves some credit for saying five words that should play a more prominent role in the larger debate: “It’s not in the bill.” Not, “Democrats say it’s not in the bill.” Not, “there’s some debate about whether that’s in the bill.” Just, “It’s not in the bill.”

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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.