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Gingrich: Space colony yay! Romney: Nay!

The two Republican candidates, battling for supremacy in the Republican war of the stars, have markedly different views about our need to export our technological excellence to set up a little earth on the moon.

One shouldn't hold one's nose when politicians talk of space travel.

One should merely hold one's judgment until they've all finished and then simply emit whatever emotions might have built up in one's intestines over the minutes.

Tonight, the Republican presidential candidates debated in Jacksonville, Fla. It just so happens that jobs in Florida have flown many of its coops--and this just happens to be a state that has become a little synonymous with blasting off to the moon.

So here we had Newt Gingrich, squeezing himself gingerly into Neil Armstrong's boots. For yesterday he had promised that by the end of his second term--yes, there would be two--we, the American people will have established a permanent base on the moon.

Many were surely reluctant to remind him that William Shatner is 80. Which means that by the end of a second Gingrich term, he would be almost 90.

And yet who could not admire the sweeping grandeur of a proposal that would surely be supported by Stephen Hawking, who is terribly worried about what we're doing to ourselves down here and what aliens might do to us if they ever got a sniff of our T-shirt collars?

Sadly, the man with slightly spacey eyes--Mitt Romney--needed to peacock his CEO credentials more than he needed to send some advance families to the moon.

"I'm not looking for a colony on the moon," he sniffed. "I think the cost of that would be hundreds of billions, if not trillions."

Oh, I think it would. But just think of the sheer televisual joy of seeing Janice and Matt Plimpstone building a little hut out of moonrock. In 3D.

Gingrich's ambitious notion was further assaulted when some killjoy earthling asked him how he might keep taxes down while blowing all this money on moon villages.

The gray-haired visionary took this as an opportunity to take his light saber and wave it at NASA.

"We now have a bureaucracy sitting there which has managed to mismanage the program so well that, in fact, we no longer have a lift vehicle," he said.

Being himself in need of a lift vehicle, he turned this very adroitly into the question: "What does the Washington office of NASA do? Does it sit around and think space?"

Oh, surely no more than politicians sit around and think history.

"Lindbergh flew to Paris for a $25,000 prize," mused the sometime highly paid historian. Which leads him to believe that with a little private and enterprising incentive, we could have "an American on the moon before the Chinese get there."

So all we need is some of the 1 percent to put up a certain percentage of their 100 percent in order for us to populate a planet that does look slightly unpromising from an aesthetic perspective.

Because mouths and money ought always to have a close proximity, I am confident that the former speaker can begin by offering a little of his hard-earned historical cash in order to get the orbit rolling.

Then we can get the likes of the truly enterprising and wealthy Kerrys and Perrys to chip in.

But here's another notion. How about offering a little space tax on all those future-minded mensches and womansches on Wall Street? Why not ask them to tithe a little of their soft-earned wealth to such a forward-thinking cause?

It would be a little like John Travolta and Tom Cruise offering a cut of their wages to the Church of Scientology. Except the Scientology here would be less ology and more science.