Newt's Flip-Flop Cheers White House

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Big Government won’t break the back of Joe Camel -- not while Newt Gingrich warms the Speaker’s seat, anyway. And that’s good news for the White House, says TIME correspondent Jay Branegan. “A few weeks ago, Gingrich was vowing to fight hard against Big Tobacco; now he’s back on their side,” says Branegan. “The White House see this flip-flop as evidence that the Republicans are in the pocket of Big Tobacco, and they’re really pleased.”

Gingrich last night flew to Joe’s defense at a GOP fund-raiser, saying movies rather than advertising promoted teenage smoking. He also lambasted the President for smoking cigars to celebrate victories. “If the Republicans want to claim that advertising has no influence on youth smoking, that’s a battle the White House would love to fight,” says Branegan. Indeed, the news might have even tempted the President to light up a stogie.