WHY IS NEWT ON MY TEEVEE?…. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) was on NBC’s “Today” show earlier, ostensibly to offer some support for beleaguered RNC Chairman Michael Steele. Gingrich suggested it’s “foolish” for Republicans to focus on Steele’s scandals when “it’s better to focus on Democrats.”

But while he was there, the former Speaker also shared his thoughts on the Affordable Care Act.

“First of all, this is a really bad bill. The more we learn about it, the worse it is. If you say to the average American do you really want to have 16,000 more IRS agents as a brand-new health police? They’re going to say, ‘No.’”

Gingrich also appeared on “Fox & Friends” this morning, and made a nearly identical claim.

Two quick thoughts here. First, Gingrich is lying about the IRS agents. It’s not even close to being true. FactCheck.org scrutinized the charge last week and concluded that’s a “wildly inaccurate claim,” predicated on “outright misrepresentation.” Every objective analysis of the claim has found it unsupportable. Newt’s casual disregard for reality continues to be tiresome.

Second, why is Newt Gingrich on “Today” in the first place? The pseudo-intellectual clown hasn’t held public office since the ’90s. He was driven from his leadership post in disgrace — by members of his own party — nearly 12 years ago.

Will “Today” also call on former House Speakers Jim Wright (D-Texas) and Tom Foley (D-Wash.) for their thoughts on current events? (For the record, I can’t find any record of either of them appearing on “Today” at any point in the last 15 years.)

I’m not especially surprised — “Meet the Press” had Gingrich on as a guest five times in 2009, more than any other any other political figure in the United States — but it’s frustrating, especially when his bogus claims go unchecked on the air.

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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.