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: Hillary Clinton's a B****

| Mon Dec. 19, 2011 7:00 AM 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.

Like most Republicans in the 1990s, Newt Gingrich was not a fan of Hillary Clinton. Unlike most Republicans in the 1990s, his dislike for the First Lady was so great that it bubbled to the surface in the middle of a 60 Minutes interview with his mom. When CBS' Connie Chung asked Kathleen Gingrich in 1995 if her son had ever vented about Hillary Clinton, Mrs. Gingrich said she couldn't talk about it. Then Chung pulled off the journalistic equivalent of the fake-to-third-throw-to-first pick-off move:

Your Daily Newt: The Great Dino Debates

| Fri Dec. 16, 2011 10:48 AM EST
Newt Gingrich and paleontologist Jack Horner debate dinosaurs in 1998.

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.

Gingrich fantasized about bringing dinosaurs back to life in his 1995 book, and he decorated his Capitol office with a tyrannosaurus rex skull on loan from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that, in 1997 and again in 1998, Gingrich participated in a series of public debates with Montana State University paleontologist Jack Horner to discuss whether the T-Rex was a scavenger or a predator.

The first forum (which was not in the style of the Lincoln–Douglas debates) came shortly after Gingrich, joined at one point by Easy Rider star Peter Fonda, spent a day digging for dinosaur bones—and small mammals—at a secure private site south of Livingston, Montana. Jerry Gray of the New York Times set the scene:

Looking like a pudgy Indiana Jones in jeans, plaid shirt and wide-brimmed hat, lugging a backpack bulging with pickax, chisels and a wisk broom, the Speaker of the House chipped away a crust of brittle stones and dried mud to expose his Jurassic treasure. He grinned broadly and proclaimed, ''I feel like a 9-year-old.''

Following the excavation, Gingrich joined Horner for a one-hour debate at Bozeman's Museum of the Rockies, to discuss the feeding habits of the T-Rex. Gingrich's theory was simple: "I believe he was a predator because I saw 'Jurassic Park' and he ate a lawyer and it wasn't a dead lawyer."

The event, which doubled as a fundraiser for the museum, was enough of a success that they did it again the next year. Yes, there's a video.

Newt Gingrich Threatens to Purge Federal Courts

| Fri Dec. 16, 2011 12:13 AM EST

Newt Gingrich has a reputation, earned or not, as a man of ideas. And at Thursday's GOP presidential debate in Iowa, he suggested a big one: Borrow a page from Thomas Jefferson and abolish federal courts whose judges have handed down decisions he disagrees with. (He's previously called for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to be purged.) If nothing else, he'd call liberal judges before Congress to testify.

As Gingrich put it, "The courts have become grotesquely dictatorial, far too powerful, and I think frankly arrogant in their misreading of the American people," the former House speaker said. "I would, just like Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, and FDR, I would be prepared to take on the Judiciary if it did not restrict itself in what it was doing."

Video, via Think Progress:

Although Jefferson's clashes with the courts aren't as well known, Jackson and FDR's power-grabs have been largely condemned by historians. Gingrich, however, dismissed concerns that dismissing entire courts would unconstitutionally tip the scales on the balance of power: "I would suggest to you, actually, as a historian I may understand this better than lawyers." (Never mind that Gingrich, who specializes in counterfactual historical novels, is not a historian.)

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