Newt Gingrich, who is still pretending to consider a presidential run, is laying down primary ground rules: No Republican debates moderated by Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann again! Not that there was a first time, necessarily. But still!

Even though Gingrich babbles about his potential candidacy more overtly than all other potential candidates combined, we'd still have to guess that it's part of his usual quadrennial routine — talking about how seriously he's considering a run, soliciting donations for his various PACs, deciding at the last minute not to run, and ultimately converting those donations into a nice personal salary for the next four years.

But if he does run, he wants debate planners to know that he won't show up at NBC News and Politico's kickoff skirmish in April should Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann be hosting. Here's how he put it on CSPAN yesterday:

There's no possibility that I would ever go to a debate and have Olbermann or Chris Matthews asking questions. I watched the debate a couple of years ago and it was an embarrassment because they were so relentlessly hostile and they were so left-wing that every question they asked of the Republicans was designed to embarrass and divide the Republicans. And every question they asked the Democrats was designed to make them look good. Well why would we participate in that?

Now Chris Matthews was a co-moderator for a 2007 Republican debate, where he just spat and shouted whatever confusing things popped into his head for the duration. Chris Matthews is a hilarious moderator.


Keith Olbermann, however, has never moderated a Republican debate. How would that ever happen? Come on now. Come on.

Although maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea for Republicans to get the most liberal debate hosts they can find. Then they can just laugh off each question, along with the audience, for an easy night of work. Wouldn't a Democratic primary debate moderated by Rush Limbaugh be superb? Hopefully the Democrats will enlist him for 2016's John Edwards versus Chelsea Clinton (rowr!) debates.

The whole thing's spectacle, anyway.