Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy@motherjones.com.

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Your Daily Newt: Space Sex

| Fri Jan. 6, 2012 4:30 PM EST
GOP presidential Newt Gingrich at a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa.

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

It is a matter of public record that Newt Gingrich is really, really into space. He proposed a "Northwest Ordinance for Space" in 1984 to establish a path to statehood for colonies in space; he proposed putting a system of giant mirrors in the atmosphere to light city streets at night and reduce crime; and he suggested that with enough government investment and/or private initiative, we might someday have colonies on the moon devoted to mining high-value minerals. For these ideas (and a few more), he earned the nickname "Newt Skywalker" from his colleagues.

And in his 1984 book, Window of Opportunity (and again in his 1994 book, To Renew America), he suggested that private space flight would open up business opportunities for space tourism—specifically for honeymooning couples. As he put it: "Imagine weightlessness and its effects and you will understand some of the attraction." Oh?

If Gingrich thought sex was improved, that wasn't the only thing. He wrote in Window of Opportunity that "In medicine alone, we may find that the effect of weightlessness on certain manufacturing processes carried on in the relatively sterile and pure environment of space will result in a multibillion-dollar industry."

How Rick Santorum Saved Wrestling

| Fri Jan. 6, 2012 12:26 PM EST
GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum (artist's rendering).

Rick Santorum's effort in Iowa received a late boost from Jim Gibbons, the much-revered former wrestling coach at Iowa State University, who endorsed the GOP presidential candidate at a Pizza Ranch in Boone on Monday. In a caucus, where voters can be pressured by their peers right up to the minute they cast their votes, these kinds of endorsements tend to carry a lot of weight. But there's another sub-plot to it all: Rick Santorum has sort of a weird fixation with wrestling.

As Mike Newall reported in his excellent 2005 Philadelphia City Paper profile, prior to getting involved in politics, Santorum worked at a law firm, where he once argued in court—successfully—that pro wrestling should be exempt from steroid regulations because it's staged (and therefore not a sport). Jake Tapper flags a 2010 quote from the Philadelphia Inquirer in which Santorum spins his wrestling work in small-government terms: "Pennsylvania was the most pernicious of states when it came to regulation. They made you pay all this money to the boxing [athletic] commission. They used to just rape these guys. You’d have to pay a certain percentage of the gate receipts to have these officials just stand around and watch the match. It was ridiculous." (Emphasis mine.)

And—because three makes a trend—here's a Rick Santorum campaign ad from 2006, which has been making the rounds today. It stars Rick Santorum (obviously), using the spectacle of mostly-naked men wrestling as a metaphor for what's wrong with Washington. (If nothing else, he seems to have anticipated the Chris Lee/Anthony Weiner scandals):

What would Rick Santorum's wrestling name be? We're going with "The Vest."

Your Daily Newt: Virtual Gingrich

| Thu Jan. 5, 2012 3:00 PM EST

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

I could describe in great detail Newt Gingrich's 2007 address to Second Life, in which a pony-tailed avatar parachutes onto the steps of the United States Capitol to hear the (considerably slimmer) former speaker discuss novelist Isaac Asimov novel, Necromancer. Or you could just see for yourself:

We cannot confirm that the man at the 3:13 mark is Wolf Blitzer's Second Life avatar.

10 Reasons Michele Bachmann Will Be Sorely Missed

| Wed Jan. 4, 2012 6:35 PM EST
Bachmann campaigns at a Rock the Caucus event on the morning of the Iowa caucuses.

Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann dropped out of the GOP presidential race on Wednesday morning in Des Moines after a fairly disastrous sixth-place finish at the Iowa caucuses. "I believe that if we are going to repeal Obamacare, turn our country around, and take back our country, we must do so united," explained the one-time front-runner, whose campaign began to collapse almost immediately after her triumph at the Ames Straw Poll in August. "And I believe that we must rally behind the person that our country and our party and our people select to be that standard-bearer." In characteristic Bachmann fashion, she left her audience with a dire warning: If Americans don't elect the right candidate next November (she wouldn't suggest who that might be), the United States would become a socialist country. Take it to the bank.

Bachmann's campaign might be history, but no one can ever take away the memories. She represented—to paraphrase Kennedy—the greatest collection of paranoia, factual inaccuracy, and overheated rhetoric since Herman Cain dined alone. And she will be missed. Here's a quick look at the road we traveled:

  1. Her proposal to build a border fence through the Rio Grande and across the length of Big Bend National Park, even though that would have the unintended consequence of diverting the course of the river and, by extension, the US–Mexico border.
  2. Her autobiography, which made its first of many egregious factual errors on the very first page.
  3. The time she tried to sway undecided Iowa voters by dancing to Train's "Soul Sister."
  4. Bachmann Eyes!
  5. The time she accused Rick Perry of giving teenage girls a vaccine that made them "retarded," was soundly rebuked by the entire pediatric community, and insisted that she was just relaying what had been told to her:

     

  6. Her obsessions with lightbulbs, the regulation of which she believes is a steppingstone to United Nations tyranny.
  7. The time she promised to close the US embassy in Iran, which does not currently exist.
  8. Her insistence that the CIA had outsourced its interrogation policy to the ACLU.
  9. The time she paid strategist Ed Rollins $90,000 to help run her campaign.
  10. Her use of the title "Dr.," even though she is not a doctor by any commonly accepted standard.

Why does the GOP race suddenly seem a little less marvelous?

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