Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has an op-ed in the conservative Washington Times this week, making the case against federal loans to clean-energy companies. In the hopes of exploiting the “controversy” surrounding Solyndra’s collapse, DeMint labels the investments themselves, “Venture Socialism.”

Billions … have been wasted by politicians betting on favored companies and making Washington bigger, using the brute force of government to force liberal preferences into the economy. Mr. Obama calls them ‘investments,’ but this is really venture socialism.

I often wish far-right lawmakers would make it more challenging to ridicule them.

The complaints were much the same in the Senate, where DeMint said the Solyndra case exposed the “unintended results when our government tries to pick winners and losers.” That’s a valid criticism, but it would be more valid if DeMint hadn’t been a supporter of the loan-guarantee legislation in 2005. [emphasis added]

By DeMint’s reasoning, he was a “venture socialist” during the Bush era, helping create the same loan program that (a) happens to be a good idea; and (b) gave Solyndra a fairly modest loan that ended up not working.

How does DeMint explain being for “using the brute force of government to force liberal preferences into the economy” before being against it? He doesn’t.

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.