Newt Gingrich has always been, as the newspaper guys used to say, "good copy," not least because, well, he was named "Newt Gingrich": were Booth Tarkington alive today, you'd find a list of names like "Newt Gingrich" sitting in a file on his computer. (Also, if he were writing Seventeen today, he'd have to call it Eleven, but that's another matter.) David Letterman once listed ten ways to mispronounce the name, the best of which was Number Three: "Newtros Newtros-Gingy." But whatever you thought of ol' Grinch Neutron political revolutionary or ethically-challenged weasel he was always the Idea Guy, the man you went to if you wanted a sound bite that didn't sound like it came from the five hundred-odd political hacks at the Capitol. In the October 2006 Discover, former Democratic media consultant Francis Wilkinson sits down with Gingrich, and they hash over scientific matters. Some of them I applaud, some of them I stare at in disbelief, and a few of them I'm going to transcribe.
This strikes me as outlandish but possibly workable anyway:
I've advocated ... paying kids in 7th through 12th grade the equivalent of what they would make working at McDonald's if they take math and science and get a B or better. Overnight you would change the culture of poor neighborhoods in America.
Not that Gingrich is that crazy about contemporary schools:
[T]here's no reason to believe that an 1820 school model has any relevance to the 21st century. It's terrific only if you think kids today are going to work in a textile mill.
Or, for that matter, the current Washington establishment:
We are in an enormous mismatch between our governing elite and reality on a bipartisan basis. I'm certain not more than 1 percent of this city has a clue.
On the possibility of climate change (and this I endorse wholeheartedly):
Unlike right-wingers who would say, "Since we don't know 100 percent for sure, we can keep carbon loading," I'd say that there is enough evidence to try to move toward renewables, to try to move toward conservation, to try to move toward a hydrogen economy. All those are reasonable steps. But none leads me to panic. We are dramatically cooler than we h