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The GOP Is Just This Clownish: The 5 Most Outlandish Candidates Floated for House Speaker

From the Vader Veep to Mark Levin, there've been a stream of unconventional names to emerge.

Former US vice-president Dick Cheney leaves after attending the ceremonial funeral of British former prime minister Margaret Thatcher at St Paul's Cathedral in central London on April 17, 2013

Republicans are desperate for a leader in the House and until Paul Ryan sacrifices his personal political ambitions for the good of an ungrateful party, they’ve desperately proposed some rather outrageous alternatives to lead their fractured caucus into an election year.

Here are five of the most ridiculous candidates to replace an outgoing John Boehner as speaker of the House floated by some Republicans:

Dick Cheney

Courtesy of Arkansas freshman Republican Senator Tom Cotton, comes the suggestion of Dick Cheney as the gavel-wielding leader of an unruly GOP House conference.

Calling him “a man of the House,” Cotton told Politico that at “these are trying times for our nation. It’s important to have a steady hand on the helm during times like this.”

I think experience really counts in a matter like this,” Cotton continued. I think House leadership experience really matters. And as you know the speaker doesn’t have to be a member of the House: So therefore, Vice President Cheney for speaker.”

A U.S. News and World Report op-ed argued, “no more Mr. Nice Guy for speaker of the House. It’s time to bring back Dick Cheney.”

“Instead of another man with a big, mushy heart, how about a man whose critics wonder whether he has a heart at all,” the author argued in favor of Cheney for speaker. “Someone who commands respect and fear, is brilliant and decisive, who has literally lived without a pulse and now makes do with a donated heart.”

“Let Lord Vader’s dark force make a dent in Washington’s leadership black hole,” she concluded.

Trey Gowdy

At the end of last month, rumors were circulating that the former prosecutor planned to retire from Congress after securing the testimony of Hillary Clinton before his Select Committee on Benghazi to return to his home state of South Carolina. Then Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in artfully bragged about how Gowdy’s politic al investigation into Clinton’s private server and emails had damaged the Democratic presidential candidate. Eventually McCarthy withdrew from his bid for the speakership but not before his House colleagues pushed for Gowdy to replace him as Majority Leader:

But some want Gowdy to fill an even more prominent role. Love and Mulvaney are both endorsed by a group called the Tea Party Republican Leadership Fund, a group that spearheaded the “Remove Boehner, Draft Gowdy” campaign. They currently have an online petition encouraging supporters to sign an “I want Gowdy” form.

“The American people are desperately looking for leadership to reverse the disastrous course Barack Obama and the Democrats have plunged our country down,” one of the group’s leaders, Rusty Humphries, wrote in a fundraising email. “We need Speaker of the House Trey Gowdy.”

But Gowdy’s communications director has said that the congressman is “not interested” in becoming the next speaker of the House, citing his obligation to the Benghazi investigation.

Mark Levin

You just had to know that while Texas flamethrower Sen. Ted Cruz was out campaigning in Iowa with fellow extreme Republicans Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Steve King recently he was bound to make a ludicrous statement or two.

“I think the next speaker should be Mark Levin,” Cruz said when asked about his preferred replacement for Boehner, according to the Quad-City Times.

Levin, a right-wing radio host who was pivotal in the ousting of former Majority Leader Eric Cantor from Congress and who has opposed Ryan as Speaker, slamming the Wisconsin Republican as an “amnesty advocate,” appeared flattered by Cruz’s suggestion before declining:

Newt Gingrich

Sean Hannity first floated the idea of a return to the 1990s, saying “maybe this is a time for Newt Gingrich to come back” on his radio show last week during an interview that was hyped on the conservative Drudge Report under the headline “DC Bombshell: Newt Gingrich back as Speaker of the House?”

“Obviously no citizen could turn down that kind of challenge,” Gingrich conceded, arguing that “this is why George Washington came out of retirement.”

“There are moments you can’t avoid,” he added.

Gingrigh then told Breitbart News that he had “moral obligation to serve the country” in the face of a leadership void.

An op-ed in the New York Observer argued that “as speaker today, Mr. Gingrich would bring a cohesive link between a rising force of conservatism and its new generation in Congress, and the Republican Congress of Mr. Gingrich’s day as today’s themes can be seen as starting with the Gingrich period and reaching an advancing stage with the best of the Tea Party movement within the last decade.”

After a couple days of hype, however, Gingrich let the air out of the trial ballon, tellingFox News’ Chris Wallace, “the odds against that happening are enormous, it is totally implausible, and Callista and I are making no plans to return to Capitol Hill.”

Mitt Romney 

So the rumors of a Romney run turned out to only be emanating from Vox’s Ezra Klein but Romney’s been doing his best to convince his former VP nominee to take the job.

“I wouldn’t presume to tell Paul what to do, but I do know that he is a man of ideas who is driven to see them applied for the public good,” Romney said of Ryan after the call.

“Every politician tries to convince people that they are that kind of leader; almost none are – Paul is. Paul has a driving passion to get America back on a path of growth and opportunity,” he added. “With Paul, it’s not just words, it’s in his heart and soul.”

 

Sophia Tesfaye is the Deputy Politics Editor at Salon.

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