Tonight: The Empire Strikes Back

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WASHINGTON: Newt Gingrich gives a rousing speech to his colleagues today, reasserting himself among them as the "single line of authority." He urges members to put the aborted coup behind them. Why, then, have House Republicans scheduled another private meeting for tonight? "Some people are still angry," says TIME's Jay Carney in Washington. "This meeting is out of Gingrich's control. His supporters, especially, want to know exactly what happened." So does Gingrich. "He's still angry, and will probably never fully trust any of them again," says Carney. "But those public calls for forgiveness may be the only thing to prevent more bloodletting tonight." Featured speakers at the inquisition will be Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, and GOP Conference Chairman John Boehner, all probably with a different version of events. "Armey, besides his public denials, has worked the conference really hard, person by person, proclaiming his innocence. The problem is that his account has been directly contradicted by the rebels he met with." Tom Delay has refused to talk to the press and indeed, hasn't said much of anything. "That may have been smarter," says Carney. "But he's also the hardest hit--his fingerprints are all over this." Trouble could come tonight when the contradictions start to emerge. "There are so many directly opposing accounts that each leader, to maintain his own story, may resort to finger-pointing. And then things could really get ugly."