Oh, please, Santa Claus, please! Please give us the political gift that keeps giving: Newt Gingrich.

The Newt says he is planning to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012, and all I can say is: “Yes!” The corrupt former House speaker was forced out of office by his own Republican colleagues in 1999 for his pettiness, political ineptness, and plain old nutballism. Since then, he’s been a corporate front man and far-right-wing political yacker, and he’s recently become a favorite of Republican tea-party howlers by screeching that Obama is running a “secular-socialist machine” that’s a greater threat to America than foreign terrorists.

Now, though, he has his own machine to make a White House run–a corporate-funded machine that already has His Newtness ebbing toward the red zone of campaign corruption. He calls his political vehicle “American Solutions for Winning the Future,” and it’s drawn millions of dollars from such billionaires as casino kingpin Sheldon Adelson, Chiquita banana baron Carl Lindner, and anti-union textile tycoon Roger Milliken.

With such funders, American Solutions can back Newt with a 20-person staff, a slick website, and a private jet to scoot him to Iowa, New Hampshire, and other political hotspots. Only American Solutions is supposed to be a “policy” outfit, not a candidate’s political organization. As such, it can take unlimited corporate money that Newt’s GOP rivals can’t accept.

How does it get away with this? By issuing policy papers that coincidentally back Gingrich’s agenda, holding training sessions that just happen to be in places he wants to go, and otherwise taking “non-political” actions that inadvertently advance his ambitions.

So there he goes again, skating on the thin ice of ethics. Run Newt, run–please.

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Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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