Five years ago, Newt Gingrich was a millionaire pundit and author, living quietly and comfortably in northern Virginia. More than a decade had passed since he took the speaker’s gavel in January 1995, and seven since he had left the House. By day, he led a consortium of private, for-profit policy groups, nicknamed “Newt World,” that advised corporations and institutions. By night, he appeared on Fox News, irritating lefty bloggers. The 63-year-old politico had it all — book contracts, speaking fees, and Beltway relevance.
But Gingrich wanted more. He saw Michael Moore and other liberal filmmakers using the silver screen for political purposes, and regretted the fact that conservatives rarely managed to compete. He wanted to establish a foothold in that intellectual marketplace, but at the time his cinematic life consisted of watching John Wayne movies on his couch — and K Street connections mean little in Hollywood.
In the winter of 2006, Gingrich was promoting his book Rediscovering God in America, still unsure of where to start pursuing his interest in film. A few months later, he found his answer at the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), when he reconnected with David Bossie, a former Capitol Hill staffer and GOP operative. The two had once been close: Bossie, a young Whitewater investigator for congressional Republicans, would huddle with the speaker in the Capitol, talking politics and scandal. And then Gingrich fired him.