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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GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich thinks Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) should be thrown in jail. The feeling's mutual.

To date, the one-liner of the 2012 presidential campaign belongs to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who in an interview with Chris Matthews on Thursday, said of Newt Gingrich's consulting company, "'Frankly, I thought the 'Gingrich Group' were his wives." (Gingrich has been married three times—zing!)

Frank rarely needs an excuse to pop off, and Gingrich has given him plenty in recent months. At a debate in October, for instance, the former House speaker called for Frank and former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) to be thrown in jail for their ties to the mortgage industry, which is not the kind of charge you just casually throw out.

So, what's at the root of the Gingrich-Frank hate-fest? 

It depends on who you ask. Frank's explanation speaks to an underlying criticism of the former Speaker: "I despise Gingrich because of the negative effect he has had on American politics." As he told Mother Jones in 1995, he thinks Gingrich is a phony intellectual driven only by a lust for power: "That's why he says so many wrong things: He doesn't know a lot about substance. He half-reads some future-oriented books and out of that comes a gabble that's not terribly coherent." Boom.

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry may have to start eating off the dollar menu soon.

If Rick Perry had one thing going for him as a Presidential candidate (well, other than the execution thing), it was his bank account. The Texas Governor, we were told going to the campaign, had access to the deep pocketbooks of Lone Star State donors, folks like homebuilder Bob Perry and businessman James Leininger. He had not one but two Super-PACs to his name, including one, Make Us Great Again (MUGA!), that was helmed by a former chief-of-staff turned lobbyist, Mike Toomey. MUGA expected to raise and spend $55 million to support Perry during the primary alone.

But Perry didn't actually start off with all that money. It was just supposed to come in once he established his dominance as the Anti-Romney prophesied by the ancients. Except he hasn't done that, and as the Houston Chronicle reports, the donors have stopped showing up. Literally:

Perry’s loyal backers are running into resistance from Republican donors. One Perry fundraiser, who asked not to be named, said he received 15 RSVPs for a recent event from potential donors saying they might attend. But after a gaffe-marred Perry debate performance, none showed up.

"The debates have taken a toll," the fundraiser said. "The national numbers have taken a toll. People see the campaign on a negative trajectory."

Perry is currently peppering the airwaves in Iowa and South Carolina with advertisements, tarring President Obama for his "privileged" upbringing. But unless the money spigot turns on again, he won't be able to keep that up forever.

Jon Stewart: Banned in Eureka.

Just imagine if he'd shown Two and a Half Men.

An Illinois school district suspended a high school civics teacher for two weeks after parents complained that he had forced kids to watch The Daily Show in class. According to the Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph, Rhett Felix showed Eureka students several recent segments from the Emmy-winning show, which resulted in a slew of complaints from offended parents:

School Superintendent Randy Crump suspended first-year teacher Rhett Felix on Tuesday morning following a two-hour executive session of the Eureka-based District 140 school board Monday night. During the public portion of the meeting, parents complained about bleeped obscenities and some sexual content of the segments and about a perception that Felix appears to have a liberal political bias. 

So what were the offensive segments students were shown? The paper helpfully identifies the specific clips from the October 31 and November 2 episodes. From there, it's not hard to see where things went wrong: One of the segments, which you can see below, begins with Jon Stewart discussing the then-breaking news of Herman Cain's sexual harassment complaint, and offering his own euphemistic pizza phrases: "You want sausage on your pie?"; "Want me to stuff your crust?"; "I told you, I guarantee, I will come in 30 minutes or less":

Felix, who could not be immediately reached for comment, also took heat for (as the paper puts it), "warning students against an Internet search that yields results deemed to be pornographic." As it turns out, that's a reference to another Daily Show clip, in which Stewart discusses Rick Santorum's Google problem.

Although the Daily Show is in fact a trusted source of news for many American teens, frothy fecal matter is not exactly the kind of subject you'd expect your kids' civics teacher to be discussing in class—especially not in conservative Eureka, Illinois, where Ronald Reagan spent his formative years.

Still, this quote, from a concerned parent, seems a bit much: "I look at what happened out at Penn State. Even though this doesn't rise to that particular level, I would ask that this board look at these allegations and respond with appropriate resolve."

It's exactly like Penn State. Except nothing at all like Penn State.

When Newt Gingrich was asked by CNBC's John Harwood why Freddie Mac paid him $300,000 in 2006, he played his wild card: He was hired, he said, for his analysis as an "historian." We called baloney—and sure enough Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Gingrich more or less did the opposite of what he said he did. And now they have a follow-up, with the full price tag: Over eight years, Gingrich was paid $1.6 million, or approximately 100,000 $16 muffins, for his work.

Clea Benson and Dawn Kopecki report:

The total amount is significantly larger than the $300,000 payment from Freddie Mac that Gingrich was asked about during a Republican presidential debate on Nov. 9 sponsored by CNBC, and more than was disclosed in the middle of congressional investigations into the housing industry collapse.

Gingrich's business relationship with Freddie Mac spanned a period of eight years. When asked at the debate what he did to earn a $300,000 payment in 2006, the former speaker said he "offered them advice on precisely what they didn't do," and warned the company that its lending practices were "insane." Former Freddie Mac executives who worked with Gingrich dispute that account.

The former officials said he helped craft and shape the agency's message in its efforts to win over lawmakers. That's in contrast to Gingrich's more recent statements; asked about his efforts by Harwood, he said he had sharply criticized the mortgage giant's housing policies and warned that its practices could hurt the economy.

Should his current surge in the polls continue much longer, it's unclear what will hurt him more: His business dealings after leaving the House, or his business dealings while he was still in the House, which prompted him to resign in disgrace. Or given the GOP base's ability to look past the flaws of any candidate not named Mitt Romney, he might just be in the clear.

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