Right-wing politicians just loooove their Ground Zero mosque! (And by "Ground Zero mosque" we mean the "multi-use complex with a space set aside for prayer two blocks from the World Trade Center site.") Republican gubernatorial wannabe Rick Lazio may be down in the polls, and his fund-raising may, as Clyde Haberman puts it, "make anemia look robust," but he knows this mosque controversy is his ace in the hole.

After demanding that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (the presumptive gubernatorial frontrunner) investigate the proposed mosque's financing, Lazio is now challenging Cuomo to a debate over the issue, which Capitol Confidential piquantly describes as "the single most important statewide issue of the summer, if not our generation." In an open letter to Cuomo, Lazio rants:

You have called those of us who oppose building this mosques racist and bigots. You should be ashamed of yourself. To get real answers I suggest that we debate this issue in an open forum to be covered by the news media. Your position on this issue is so wrong and I recognize you may not want to defend it but all the same I am asking you to do just that. I am sending a copy of this request for debate to all television stations and all newspapers in New York. I believe the debate should be held where the audience can watch and respond as well as ask questions of us.

Cuomo has not responded to the challenge, which comes less than a week after Lazio's Republican rival, Chuch Paladino, promised that, if elected, he would use eminent domain to seize the proposed mosque property and include it in "a war memorial district" around Ground Zero. Not to be left behind, Newt Gingrich continues to chime in that the group behind the mosque explains where the $100 million to build it is coming from. In an interview with "Inside City Hall," Gingrich declared:

There are over a thousand mosques in the United States. There are over a hundred mosques in New York City. I defend the right to have mosques in America. I defend the right of people to worship as they want to worship. This is a political act designed to establish a 13-story building two blocks from the World Trade Center for the purpose of saying worldwide, we're winning, the Americans are losing, and they're too dumb to even know they're in a war.

Ha, how could the terrorists possibly think we're dumb when we're engaged in such a rational, insightful debate?