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Brave Newt World

So, what are House Republicans up to?

If you didn't know any better, you'd think they were taking marching orders from Speaker-in-Exile Newt Gingrich. For the past week or so, he's been urging Congressional Republicans and John McCain to reject the $700 billion bailout and label it the "Bush-Obama" plan -- tying the Democratic nominee to the most toxic Republican since, well, Gingrich himself.

Opposing the plan would also open up a world of political possibilities for Republicans still tepid about backing Senator Maverick, he's argued.

If the GOP blocks the bailout, “I think you will see the emergence overnight of a ‘McCain Reform Wing of the Republican Party’ and you’ll see House and Senate members siding with McCain by overwhelming margins and then you’ll be in a very different political environment," he told ABC a few days ago.

"You’ll have ‘Bush-Obama ads’ on the one side and ‘taking on the Bush-Obama establishment’ on the other side, and that will be, frankly, one of the more amazing elections,” he added.

Sure enough, the one-page House GOP plan even contained a key Gingrich proposal: suspending the capital gains tax.

But today's Republicans may want to take a cue: Gingrich's decision to shut down the government in '95 was enormously unpopular and led to his downfall.

With Avi Zenilman