Paul Greenberg

There's no doubt solar panels have been a boon for the economy -- the Chinese economy. The Chinese can make them cheaper thanks to their cheap/slave labor. Here at home, that green economy Barack Obama and Joe Biden keep touting has produced a sea of red ink. Despite all their happy talk, the American public may be catching on. Or folks soon will if incorrigibly capitalist types like Richard Kinder keep cracking wise.

When his remarks made the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Kinder was unapologetic. "I live my life by saying what I believe," he told the press, "and I would have said the same things regardless of who was there -- including President Obama -- and I'm sure he wouldn't have minded."

Not publicly, anyway. After all this president's miscalls when it comes to economic policy, he's in no position to show his irritation when he's called on them.

As for those investment bankers eager to get in on the purely private deal Richard Kinder is putting together, he had a word or two for them, too. "We'll obviously have investment bankers involved," he said, and "a lot of other people who will be frothing at the bit to get some fees out of this thing, I'm sure. You know, that's what they live for."

When it comes to the targets of his stand-up comedy, Richard Kinder is an equal opportunity comic. Capitalist, Communist, banker, politician, he not only sees what they're up to -- which isn't too hard -- but talks about it. That's the impressive part. Particularly at a time when business types are told to talk tact to power.

Or, better yet, to just let the PR people handle all the company's communication, lest the truth out. After all, you never know when you might need a government bailout. Maybe that's why Richard Kinder is so impressive. He says what's on his mind. Honey Badger don't care. Which may be why that little video starring Mr. H. Badger has attracted so many viewers. That kind of single-mindedness attracts admiration. The way Richard Kinder does.

A tactful spokesman for Kinder Morgan tried to cover for its candid CEO, dismissing the boss' comments as having provided just "a few lighthearted moments during our employee meeting, which we fail to see as newsworthy." Especially if those comments come all too close to the truth. Spokesflacks are not much renowned for their sense of humor and/or truth, which on this stellar occasion proved to be much the same.

That's the nature of humor and truth. Both are transcendent qualities. And what they transcend is the natural tendency to hold them in check lest we all be honest with one another.

But for at least one golden moment in 2011, Richard Kinder broke through the paper curtain that's supposed to hide what all know but few are willing to say.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.