THE MAN WITH THE PLASTIC BUCKET

Newt Gingrich was very much like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland--a disembodied grin hovering over Election Day, present but invisible by choice. He could afford to smile over his party's apparent retention of the House. But to help ensure that victory, he had to keep himself out of sight during the campaign season.

In a very real sense, the election had been debated on terms that Gingrich and his troops had set. But as the presidential candidates were pointing the way to the millennium, the Speaker of the House spent the past few months in a tiny world of...

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