The risk from the financial crisis was overblown and many of the TARP bailouts were unnecessary, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in an interview published today.

Speaking to Esquire magazine, Pawlenty suggested the bailout was contrived by Goldman Sachs execs for their own self interest. He referred to an unnamed story he read on how the bailout was conceived.

"In this story, Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO, was meeting with other Goldman Sachs executives, trying to figure out what to do, and surprise, surprise, they came up with the conclusion that the federal government should bail out Goldman Sachs," Pawlenty said.

"So I don't take as an article of faith that the financial world would have come to an end if we had let more of these institutions fail," he added.

Pawlenty also had some harsh words for his fellow Republicans, blaming them for abandoning their beliefs and failing to address Americans' real concerns.

"The Republicans had their shot not long ago to address the real needs and concerns of everyday Americans, and they blew it," he told Esquire magazine. "Over the time that they were there and had the leadership opportunity, they blew it. We got fired for a reason."

He also faulted Congressional Republicans for failing to "articulate the alternate vision" to Democrats' healthcare reform plan.

Finally, Pawlenty hinted pretty clearly that he's leaning towards a 2012 presidential bid:

I think the country's in trouble. And I think I have a pretty clear sense of the values and principles that have made this country great. I've had a chance to govern and lead with those in mind, with some significant success in Minnesota. And I think the country needs that kind of leadership and insight and perspective. So through my PAC, I'm going to share my beliefs across the country. And I'm gonna take the next year to see how that goes and make my decision late in 2010 or in early 2011.