Hightower: Crazy Uncle Newt

As one who has been there, I can attest that going into politics requires you to be a couple of bubbles off plumb to start with, but Newt Gingrich -- well, he's gone plumb off the wall. The loopy Loudspeaker of the House has become Washington's version of the crazy uncle your family has to keep up in the attic. Sure enough, his Republican colleagues are now desperately trying to keep The Newt out of sight for awhile. For months, the GOP spin doctors contended that he was just an "eccentric genius." But then last month, Newt very publicly fell into a puerile pout because he claimed President Clinton had not talked to him during a flight aboard Air Force One, even though there were photographs showing the two of them talking. Still, to get back at the Prez, the pouty little genius shut-down the whole US government. Since then, he has gone on a terrible tear: He's demanded that the CIA budget be held up until our spooks agree to launch a covert-action campaign to oust the leaders of Iran; he's said that if his version of the budget isn't approved, the stock market will crash; and he even blamed the hideous murder of an Illinois welfare mother and kidnapping of her unborn child on the Democrats. So, finally admitting that their boy isn't too tightly wrapped, Republican elders have quietly asked Uncle Newt to stay in the attic for awhile. It's not him they care about -- it's their own political butts. Sixty-four percent of the American people have figured out that the GOP leader is flakier than momma's pie crust and doing serious damage to Medicare, the environment, and other things they really care about. And these polls were taken before Newt's own, handpicked ethics committee voted unanimously to condemn his corrupt ties to corporate lobbyists and PACs. I'm praying the Republicans turn Newt loose again soon, because Democrats need him -- and so do I!

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