Newsletters to Neutralize Newt

The Bush administration gave rise to the Quayle Quarterly, which chronicled the VPÕs foibles. Now the 104th Congress has spawned at least three newsletters skewering House Speaker Newt Gingrich. And with a high-tech twist Gingrich himself might appreciate, two are only distributed via the World Wide Web. The third is available by fax. NewtGram, faxed weekly by the Democratic National Committee, compiles snippets of newspaper articles about GingrichÕs exploits, from ethics charges to his war against consumer safety and the environment to Newt Gingrich underwear. NewtWatch bills itself as "your source for information on Newt Gingrich." Readers can find PAC contributions to Gingrich sorted right down to ZIP code and the truth about some of GingrichÕs most egregious comments, including claims that hundreds of babies are left in Washington dumpsters or that a ten-year-old in St. Louis was prosecuted for saying grace in a public school. Preformatted e-mail letters to Gingrich are also included. NewtWatchÕs publishers say the newsletter is designed to be the WebÕs first virtual PAC. WhatÕs Newt also tracks media coverage of the speaker, including his recommendation to fellow Congress members to read Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among the Apes, which chronicles a power struggle in which an ambitious male chimp wages a campaign to overthrow the established leader. The newsletter also notes that although Gingrich blames EPA for the Òabsurdly irrationalÓ expense of asbestos removal, Gingrich himself cast at least two votes in favor of asbestos removal. Has the bad publicity had an effect on Gingrich? Lee Butler, who works with Public CitizenÕs Newt Gingrich Watch! campaign, says GingrichÕs giving up of his GOPAC is one example. ÒObviously, heÕs taken some of the criticism if not to heart, at least to his shrewd sense of political expediency,Ó Butler says.

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