There are plenty of reasons why we don’t like Jon Huntsman (a.k.a. the “other” Mormon looking at a 2012 presidential bid). For starters? His most recent job was in the administration of Barack Obama. Beyond that, he has supported “pricing carbon” – which for those of you unfamiliar with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s tortured position on the issue is code for supporting a massive energy tax hike.

But we’ll have plenty of time to parse Huntsman’s left-of-center record in the months to come … today? We’re giving credit where credit is due …

Specifically, Huntsman should be applauded for the criticism he’s taking from corn-fed Iowa politicians over his decision to eschew the early-voting state and focus on primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

Huntsman is skipping Iowa for strategic reasons, although some in Iowa suspect that his decision revolves around his opposition to ethanol subsidies (i.e. taxpayer handouts to corn farmers).

Ethanol subsidies – like any other farm subsidies – are a joke (and a costly one at that). In fact, American taxpayers spend $6 billion a year on these handouts, and all they’ve gotten in return are higher food and gasoline prices. Oh – and a bunch of empty promises about how the new fuel would … wait for it … “reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

That hasn’t happened, obviously …

Of course we’ve known these handouts were wrong-headed for years. In fact, ethanol subsidies were pilloried over a decade ago during a season one episode of The West Wing – and again in a season six episode called “King Corn.”

Nonetheless, pandering “Republican” presidential candidates like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich still support them. Meanwhile Tim Pawlenty wants to phase subsidies out “gradually” and “fairly,” although he has a record of supporting them in his home state of Minnesota.

As far as we’re concerned, a GOP candidate’s position on ethanol is an early test of free market resolve – and political will. Romney and Gingrich failed that test – as does Pawlenty by virtue of his flip-flop on the issue.

And while we’ll have plenty of less-than-flattering things to say about Jon Huntsman over the next few months, we must begrudgingly admit that he got this one right.