I awoke the next morning trapped in one of those purgatorial hazes where you need several minutes of mental calibration to reacquaint yourself with your surroundings. Slowly, the realization dawned on me. I was lying on a soiled mattress in a flophouse on the edge of town. I peaked around a corner to find Tammy cooking something in the kitchen, and judging by the smell it wasn’t eggs. I took stock of myself, hoping against hope that in my alcohol and drug induced stupor the night before I hadn’t gone so far as to make as big of a mistake as my current situation would lead me to believe. Just then Tammy came back into the room.
Newt Fun Fact #5: Being a former history professor, Newt knows well the old phrase, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That’s why, in an effort to wipe out his past transgressions, every night before Newt and his wife, Callista, go to bed he slips her a mickey.
“Hope ya’ had a good sleep, sleepy head,” Tammy greeted me, handing over a plate of some viscous material that only a battery of scientific tests could possibly identify. I took the plate from her and set it down next to the bed. My first question, of course, was a stammering, “Did we… did we, uh, you know?”
“Oh no, silly,” she replied, “butcha were pretty beat up after that walk ya’ took with Arnold last night, so I took ya’ back here.” Right, Arnold, now it was coming back to me. Arnold Rothschild had been elevated to Newt’s campaign finance director a few weeks previous. My run-in with him from the night before was still a little foggy. I recalled the two of us walking outside later in the evening, hoping that, as finance director, he might be able to provide me with some Deep Throat-esque info. Instead, he offered me a joint and, as we passed it back and forth, proceeded to talk about how he’d landed his current gig.
Arnold originally came to the headquarters in his position as a door-to-door tupperware salesman. He launched into his pitch right there at the headquarters’ front door, beginning by touting the lack of BPAs in his products. However, Gingrich’s former campaign manager, Michael Krull, who was still with the campaign at the time, thought he overheard Arnold saying something about a CPA and, being in dire need of a campaign finance director after the last one had been arrested for solicitation, he immediately offered the job to Arnold. The only problem was that Arnold was a high school dropout whose math skills could only generously be described as elementary. This last fact might have had something to do with the $500 bounced check the campaign sent to Utah to pay the registration for their primary ballot.
Newt Fun Fact #6: Although he was never a boxer, Newt holds a footnote in the annals of that sport’s medical community, having been the first person to be diagnosed not with cauliflower ear, but cauliflower face.
Anyway, after I dumped the plate of “food” Tammy had prepared for me in the garbage while her back was turned, we got into her beat up, late-90’s model Toyota and headed back over to the Gingrich campaign headquarters. I spent the drive trying to rehash the rest of last night’s events in my painfully pulsating head.
It came back to me in bits and pieces. After we had all waited around for most of the day, Sheldon Adelson finally showed up, carried in to the office on a royal litter that had been shipped out from Vegas. When his attendants finally laid down the canopied sedan chair, and the miniature mogul stepped out, I found myself standing a few measly steps from one of the most hideous visages I’d ever laid eyes on. It took me a moment to overcome my initial repulsion, but I soon settled in to find out the man’s purpose in being there.
His first stop was the roulette tabled he’d installed earlier that day, where he took several minutes to double-check the croupier’s numbers. Then, pocketing the house winnings, he turned to the fifteen or so of us who were gathered, and launched into a short speech. “Like the classical Venetian culture I’ve modeled my first-class casinos after,” he began, “I felt that Mr. Gingrich would be the Doge to lead this country into it’s own Renaissance era. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly clear that that is no longer possible. So, with that in mind, I want to announce that I will no longer be financing this campaign.”
The pronouncement fell on the room with a heavy thud. Not that anyone there, even those who’s break with reality had been most apparent, thought there was any life left in the campaign, but upon hearing Adelson’s words everyone seemed to realize just what a waste of time these past weeks and months had been for them. Then, just as swiftly as he entered, Adelson climbed back onto his litter and the four burly men he’d hired to carry it ushered him out into the night.
Newt Fun Fact #7: Newt originally wanted to call the 1994 Contract With America, ‘Conservative Happy Fun Time’, but was overruled by party officials.
When Tammy and I arrived at the offices that morning people were already packing up their things. Jimbo and Arnold were locked in a sympathetic hug that was quickly bordering on creepy, while Jerry, the Young Republican janitor and accidental acid freak, languidly dragged his mop across the floor. Here I was, witnessing the end of one of the weirdest campaigns in modern history. It was a campaign that never had a chance to begin with, but still captured the public’s imagination – at least, those of us whose imaginations are often filled with horrid nightmares. The only thing left for me was the interview with the candidate himself, my own personal Colonel Kurtz. Newt was scheduled to make a final appearance at headquarters the next morning, and after the night I’d had I decided to take a cab back to my hotel room and rest up.
To be continued in the final dispatch…