Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson isn’t going to be the next president of the United States … but the fact that he’s polling in the low single digits among the 2012 GOP field doesn’t mean his candidacy should be ignored.

That’s exactly what’s happening, though … despite the fact that Johnson is out-performing several of his better-known rivals.

Seriously … you think Ron Paul is getting screwed over by the press? He’s got nothing on Johnson.

In a CNN/ORC poll released in late August, Johnson out-polled former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman – and was tied with former Godfathers’ Pizza CEO Herman Cain. Nonetheless, Johnson was not allowed to participate in a CNN debate held earlier this week that featured … you guessed it … Santorum, Huntsman and Cain.

Adding insult to injury, the most recent CNN/ORC survey – released earlier this week – didn’t even list Johnson’s name among the candidates being polled.

Wait … what? A second-tier candidate who’s been ignored by the press and excluded from debates manages to out-poll two of his rivals and CNN responds by yanking him from its poll?

What the hell?

“How can you qualify for the debates when you’re not included in the polls?” Johnson’s campaign recently asked in a blog post.

That’s a damn good question. But an even better one is this: Why is their room on the Republican stage for a social conservative panderer like Santorum and a former appointee of U.S. President Barack Obama like Huntsman – and yet no room for Johnson? Would there be room for him if he were black (like Cain)? Or a woman (like U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is also polling in single digits)?

Hmmmm …

Beyond that, could it be that Johnson is being excluded because he would bring another libertarian-leaning, pro-Constitution, unapologetic fiscally conservative voice to the debate? And … perish the thought … could it be that Johnson might actually be able articulate that limited government perspective better than Ron Paul, who occasionally veers into what our founding editor (and Aaron Sorkin before him) has called “Uncle Fluffy” territory during debates?

Also, could it be that – unlike Paul – Johnson has an executive record of accomplishing his limited government agenda as opposed to just driving the debate?

“It’s disappointing … that Governor Johnson’s established credibility as a presidential candidate has not earned him the opportunity to present his message in the nationally televised debates,” Johnson’s campaign notes.

We agree wholeheartedly.

Gary Johnson is a former two-term governor who used his veto pen to block tax hikes, slash government growth in half and eliminate his state’s budget deficit.  In fact, “Governor Veto” left his state with a $1 billion surplus. He’s also an aggressive supporter of universal parental choice and a outspoken critic of America’s failed “War on Drugs.”

In other words, he’s exactly the sort of candidate America should be listening to right now … not ignoring.