Edward Conard, one of Mitt Romney's biggest donors to his super PAC, says the GOP's inexorable focus on the now-bankrupt Solyndra is a "cherry-picked" example of companies that got money from the government.
Romney and the Republican National Committee have been relentless in drawing attention to Solyndra, a solar panel maker that won a $535 million loan guarantee from the Obama administration but shut down in September.
Romney even staged a press conference at the shuttered headquarters of the energy company outside Silicon Valley last month, calling it a "symbol of how the president thinks about free enterprise."
On Thursday night, though, Conard, who worked with Romney at the private-equity firm Bain Capital and who has donated $1 million to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Romney, suggested that Solyndra's failure is a rare case of companies gone wrong and isn't indicative of government funding.
The way in which Conard got to that point was a little unique - it was during an exchange with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, in an interview that was too long for broadcast but is available online.
The back-and-forth started when Stewart said that while he was at Bain, Conard "utilized rules that even the companies that failed, you still could win."
"That's a rarest of the rare," Conard replied. "Those are cherry-picked examples."
Stewart was ready with his comeback: "Like Solyndra would be a cherry-picked example."
"Of course Solyndra's cherry-picked," he said. "I don't disagree with that."
Then, in a rare moment of warmth in an otherwise lengthy and prickly "interview" about Conard's controversial new book, Stewart said, "You're a good man."