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The ubiquitous Newt Gingrich slogs on

The ubiquitous Newt Gingrich slogs on

by Bill Berkowitz

Former House Speaker appeared in an Al Gore-sponsored anti-global warming ad with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but later backtracked

He recently "counseled" Democrats and plugged his new novel about Pearl Harbor titled "Days of Infamy" on ABC's "The View" and "Good Morning America"; he appears regularly over at the Fox News Channel; he recently told the French Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that Obama "is a far left-wing politician, but with a beautiful smile"; he's got a website that's pretty cool; he co-authored another best selling book; he's listed at number 36 on the Daily Telegraph's list of the 50 most influential political pundits; and now that Sen. John McCain is the Republican Party's presumptive nominee, he no doubt regrets not having tossed his hat into the ring.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (website) is also appearing in a television advertising spot -- alongside current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) -- as part of Al Gore's $300 million campaign aimed at combating global warming, sponsored by the Alliance for Climate Protection.

While the pairing of Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson surprised some and aggravated others, Gingrich's appearance with Pelosi has brought a string of critical commentaries from some of Gingrich's conservative colleagues.

The San Francisco Chronicle's conservative columnist Debra J. Saunders wrote recently that "Gingrich's role confirms the suspicion of many Republicans that the Newter will say anything to get his face in the limelight."

Doug Powers' WorldNet Daily column titled "Newt Gingrich: Reaping with the enemy?" describes his disappointment and then disenchanted with Gingrich: "As a political philosopher and historian, I have consistently considered Gingrich to be an upper-echelon conservative -- but fairly recently, something has happened to Newt. For one, he's jumped aboard the 'climate-change' train while claiming it's only so he can make sure the gauges aren't broken."

"Gingrich is being duped, and I thought he was smarter than this," Powers wrote. Perhaps the years and years of being bashed, vilified, knocked and kicked around has led to a case of Stockholm Syndrome so severe that Newt's actually started to sprout skis -- which will come in handy when he's vacationing in the mountains of Idaho with the Kerrys."

In a post titled "Why Is Gingrich Fronting Gore?" John Andrews, a fellow at the conservative Claremont Institute and former President of the Colorado Senate, is puzzled by Gingrich's appearance in ad whose campaign proclaims that "The climate crisis is both urgent and solvable [so] our ultimate aim is halt global warming."

That statement, wrote Andrews, is antithetical to what many conservatives believe.

In the ad, Gingrich and Pelosi's message is "Our country must take action to address climate change. If enough of us demand action from our leaders, we can spark the innovation we need."

Feeling the heat, Gingrich circulated a letter which argued that he is trying to get in on the global warming debate without necessarily agreeing with environmentalists "that we have conclusive proof of global warming [or] that humans are at the center of it."

The complete text of the letter was read on the Rush Limbaugh radio program:

Many of you have written to me to ask why I recently taped an advertisement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for The Alliance for Climate Protection, a group founded by former Vice President Al Gore. I completely understand why many of you would have questions about this, so I want to take this opportunity to explain my reasons. First of all, I want to be clear: I don't think that we have conclusive proof of global warming. And I don't think we have conclusive proof that humans are at the center of it.

But here's what we do know. There is an important debate going on right now over the right energy policy, the right environmental policy, and making sure we do the right things for our future and the future of our children and grandchildren. Conservatives are missing from this debate, and I think that's a mistake. When it comes to preserving our environment for future generations, we can't have a slogan of 'Just yell no!' I have a different view. I think it's important to be on the stage, to engage in the debate, and to communicate our position clearly.

There is a big difference between left-wing environmentalism that wants higher taxes, bigger government, more bureaucracy, more regulation, more red tape, and more litigation and a Green Conservatism that wants to use science, technology, innovation, entrepreneurs, and prizes to find a way to creatively invent the kind of environmental future we all want to live in. Unless we start making the case for the latter, we're going to get the former. That's why I took part in the ad.

According to Andrews, Gingrich "insists his purpose in doing the ads with Pelosi is to advance 'a Green Conservatism that wants to use science, technology, innovation, entrepreneurs, and prizes to find a way to creatively invent the kind of environmental future we all want to live in.'"

In order to better understand why Gingrich would stray so far from the reservation, Andrews turned to Joseph Bast, the president of the Heartland Institute, the conservative public policy institute that was responsible for organizing the recent Manhattan Conference of a gaggle of conservative skeptics who still deny the reality of global warming.

Bast told Andrews that while "Gingrich was once an important figure in the conservative movement," his appearance in the advertisements run by Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection "confirms what many conservatives have been saying for quite awhile: Gingrich is no longer a conservative."

According to Bast, Gingrich's "views on environment and even health care no longer are based on sound science, private property rights, and market-based solutions, but instead spread and stray into territory mostly traveled by alarmists and liberals. It's a surprise," said Bast, "because very few conservatives 'go over to the other side' (whereas it is common among liberals). It's disappointing, too, because Gingrich is undeniably a clever man and forceful communicator. We can only hope it is a phase he's going through, and be prepared to welcome him back to the fold if ever he wakes up and smells the coffee."

Gingrich, who is simultaneously a "Senior Fellow" at the conservative philanthropy supported American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, a "Distinguished Visiting Fellow" at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California and is an Honorary Chairman of the NanoBusiness Alliance, is also Chairman of the Gingrich Group, a communications and consulting firm that specializes in "transformational change," with offices in Atlanta and Washington, DC.

American Solutions for Winning the Future (website) is another of Gingrich's enterprises. If you thought the Republican revolution had come and gone circa 1994 with the GOP's "Contract with America," check out "The Platform of the American People: A Red, White, and Blue Revolution ," which Gingrich calls a "tripartisan agenda."

Gingrich also sponsors The Center for Health Transformation (website), an organization, according to its website, that is "a high-impact collaboration of private and public sector leaders committed to creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System that saves lives and saves money for all Americans."

Despite the ever-apparent certainty and smugness that made him one of the most successful and reviled politicians for the past two decades -- and ultimately led to his resignation from the House -- it is clear that Newt Gingrich is definitely in it for the long haul. And should McCain lose in November, look for Gingrich to crank up all of his assorted entities in anticipation of Election 2012.


Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His column "Conservative Watch" documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the U.S. Right.

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