This morning, Mitt Romney passed along a conspiracy theory:

“[President Obama] said that energy prices would skyrocket under his views and he selected three people to help him implement that program: the secretary of energy, the secretary of the interior, and the EPA administrator,” Romney said. “And this gas-hike trio has been doing the job over the last three and a half years and gas prices are up.”

The claim that Obama consciously tried to hike the price of gas isn’t a new one. Last month, Mitch Daniels said the president “wanted higher gas prices, and he got them.” And earlier this month, a Fox News reporter was widely mocked, including by the president himself, for asking if Obama yearned for high has prices.

The Washington Post looked into the allegation (which, it’s worth noting, makes no sense whatsoever), and found that “the president never said he wanted the cost of gasoline to rise.”

What’s new, and immensely dispiriting, is that Romney — who, if nothing else, understands how the economy works — chose to pick up the mantle. The problem for him is he can’t very well acknowledge where the blame truly lies without eroding his support. If Romney calls out the oil speculators, he risks being labeled anti-capitalist, and if suggests ratcheting down the talk of attacking Iran, he will be labeled anti-Semitic.

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