Gingrich Brings Glenn Beck's Chalkboard To Iowa

January 03, 2012 12:35 pm ET — Walid Zafar

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is hoping for a strong showing at today's Iowa caucuses, seems to think that revisiting Glenn Beck's chalkboard will help him among the state's conservative voters. Speaking to supporters in Muscatine, Iowa this morning, Gingrich revived one of the more ridiculous claims made about the Obama administration's energy policy: that the administration approved a $2 billion loan to a Brazilian company to benefit billionaire businessman and philanthropist George Soros.

GINGRICH: Obama is against American oil and gas. Goes to Brazil, congratulates the Brazilians on drilling offshore. Tells them how glad he is that we can guarantee $2 billion of equipment purchases largely by a company owned by George Soros.

This conspiracy theory, first concocted by former Fox News personality Glenn Beck and later picked up by Republican members of Congress, is wrong in almost every imaginable way. For starters, the loan was not approved by the administration but by the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, a government credit agency that loans money to foreign companies that want to purchase American-made goods.

The bank, which is "self-sustaining" and does not use taxpayer funds to make its loans, approved a $2 billion loan to Petróleo Brasileiro, a Brazilian multinational energy corporation that is publicly traded on several international stock markets. The decision to go ahead with the loan did not involve any Obama administration appointees. As the Ex-Im Bank has noted, "at the time the Bank's Board consisted of three Republicans and two Democrats, all of whom were appointed by President George W. Bush."

Gingrich went further than Beck and others by claiming that the loan "largely" went to a company "owned by George Soros."

In fact, the Brazilian government owns a controlling majority of Petrobras. Past efforts at debunking this lie have noted that Soros, who is at the center of this conspiracy and who is accused of profiting from the loan, actually reduced his stake in the company in the months preceding the announcement of the deal.

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