President Obama is proud of his administration’s role in rescuing the U.S. auto industry, via government-financed restructurings of General Motors and Chrysler.

But in campaigning for re-election on this aspect of his record, he has shown an unfortunate, and remarkably ungracious, tendency to distort the record of his predecessor.

Specifically, Obama told an Iowa audience Wednesday that “the administration before us, they had been writing some checks to the auto industry with asking nothing in return. It was just a bailout, straight — straightforward. We said we’re going to do it differently.”

Uh, not exactly. President George W. Bush never gave the companies an unconditional bailout. He reluctantly loaned them money in return for what The Detroit Free Press described as “deep concessions” — and he did so in part so that Obama would not have to take office amid a full-blown industrial meltdown.

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