Chris Matthews all but thinks Newt Gingrich is Satan. His MSNBC colleague Martin Bashir is a little more restrained, but not by much, comparing the former House Speaker to huckster and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
Bashir made the comparison in the "Clear the Air" closing commentary for his December 14 program. "Ever since he shot to the top of the Republican race for the White House, I've been trying to figure out which historical figure Newt Gingrich most resembles," noted in opening his monologue, before making a gross historical gaffe of his own (update: Bashir's twitter feed corrected the gaffe later with a h/t to yours truly):
From the first century, one might be tempted to call him a modern-day St. Augustine. Mr. Gingrich would probably like the comparison, especially since Augustine's best-known work is his book of confessions.
Of course Augustine of Hippo was not around in the first century A.D. He wasn't born until 354. But why let the facts get in the way of making a veiled reminder of Catholic convert Newt's history as an adulterer?
The catty Bashir then turned to literature, where "it's possible to see Newt Gingrich as Shakespeare's King Lear, a man of immense wealth who descends into madness after succumbing to flattery and brings only tragedy to all that he touches."
"As one character says of Lear, and might now be said of Gingrich, 'The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman,'" Bashir darkly added.
But neither Augustine nor King Lear sufficed for Bashir, since Gingrich "is a perfect combination of religiosity and insanity," a "peddler of myths and fantasies" who "is the modern incarnation of the late L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology."