Your Daily Newt: The Speaker’s Amazon Adventure

Editors’ note: 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.

The Republican presidential field was stale and uninspiring when Gail Sheehy profiled the speaker of the House for Vanity Fair in 1995. Sheehy reported that Newt Gingrich first began eyeing the Oval Office 19 years earlier, when he was an assistant professor of history and geography at West Georgia College. “[I]gnoring the minor setback of having just lost his second campaign for Congress, he and his acolytes began to plot a presidential run scheduled for 2000 or 2004.” But Gingrich, at least publicly, wanted nothing to do with the nomination:

Today, Newt asserts unconvincingly that the presidency is not “one of the three highest items” on the checklist for the rest of his life. “But,” he says, “hanging around with Marianne is pretty high on the list…I really do want to experience a lot of marriage.”

When I ask what else is on the list, Newt rolls out a wish list that sounds like the contents page from Men’s Journal. “I’ve always wanted to cross the Owen Stanley Range in New Guinea…I would love to go and collect dinosaur fossils for a while. Probably in Montana or northern Arizona. I would really love to spend six months to a year in the Amazon basin, just being able to spend the day watching tree sloths.”

Out of spite, surely. The tree sloth, content to eat and sleep away its existence, is the very embodiment of the corrupt welfare state. Here’s a video of a sloth refusing to cross a road without assistance because it wasn’t raised in a culture that valued hard work:

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  • Tim Murphy

    Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Reach him at tmurphy@motherjones.com.