Okay, so maybe initially it was a bummer for taxpayers to learn that the government had poured half billion dollars down that that solar rat hole known as Solyndra.

But there's always a silver lining–or in this case, an art show using Solyndra's expensive glass cylinders.

At first, it appeared that the expensive tubes were a total loss. Indeed, Solyndra’s inventory as a whole was so specialized that it could not be sold to recover money—not, of course, that the taxpayer “loan” would have been repaid, given that the Obama administration structured a curious deal that put the taxpayer at the back of the line.

But here is a heartening report from PJ Media:

The fate of Solyndra’s millions of unused glass tubes is still unknown (many of them were likely destroyed — we’ll get to that part of the story in a moment), but luckily a pair of Bay Area artists somehow managed to get their hands on some of the surviving Solyndra tubes and put them to good use…not to produce electricity, but as art.

The Solyndra tube exhibit, known as “SOL Grotto” and designed by artist/architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, was installed in the University of California at Berkeley Botanical Garden as part of a larger multi-work installation dubbed “Natural Discourse

 As is so often the case, Lucianne Goldberg perfectly sums up the situation:

Dear Taxpayer: Hoping you are into art because you just bought a load of it.

After you enjoy the art your money made possible, scroll down and learn what happened to the rest of the tubes. PJ Media quotes somebody who attended the Solyndra bankruptcy auction and noticed crates and pallets of boxes containing the cylindrical tubes. The auction goer noted:

The room contained an array of 20-by-25 boxes containing 800,000 to 1 million tubes in unopened crates and pallets. They were neatly arranged in rows by month: January 2011, February 2011, March 2011, April 2011 and so on.

Had I walked into this factory in early 2011, I would have undoubtedly asked why the expensive, high purity glass tubes were coming in but not being used. This represents a serious mismatch in the supply chain between finished goods produced, Solyndra solar panels, and the raw materials coming in.

Alas, the tubes weren't purchased and were subsequently junked.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who pushed for the Solyndra “loan,” had better hope he manages his own portfolio better than he does ours. And chances are that he does. People tend to be more careful investors when they are using their own money. But taxpayer money? Hey, it's free. Except that it's not.