Everyone wants a sugar daddy to save them. Wall Street has found one in Washington. But the newspaper industry has been batting its eyes in the direction of Mountain View, Calif., home of Google. Ha!

Smart, since the government and Google are the only people who have money anymore. But no such luck, says Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Google will take over a newspaper's Web search and broker ads for it (taking a hefty cut of revenues, of course) — but it's not going to shower the dead-tree industry with cash, he tells Fortune:

How about just buying them?

I don't think our purchasing a newspaper would solve the business problems. It would help solidify the ownership structure, but it doesn't solve the underlying problem in the business. Until we can answer that question we're in this uncomfortable conversation.... The fundamental question you're asking is, Why does Google not write large checks to newspapers? We're careful at Google with our money. We write large checks when we have a great strategy. And we don't yet have that strategy.

So much for the world's most innovative company! Google is getting into the energy business. One of its top executives, Vint Cerf, spends much of his time thinking about porting the Internet to deep space. And yet Schmidt doesn't know how to save the newspapers. "I wish I had a brilliant idea, but I don't," he says. How unlike Google.