You got to hand it to Newt Gingrich, the last Speaker of the House who shut down the U.S. government in a pique about a perceived snub by President Clinton on Air Force One en route to the funeral of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The Wise Old Man of the GOP is giving tips to the current round of Republican insurgents. Newt's got incredible chutzpah.

In his electronic newsletter today, Gingrich gives faithful readers a handout of what he told freshmen Republican congressmen last week.

Among the tips: “be cheerful.”

Though Republican Rep. Paul Ryan is hardly a freshman, he should take Newt’s friendly advice to heart. A smile or two from the pride of Wisconsin (geez, whatever happened to the Dairy State?) might humanize the House Budget Committee chairman as he works to slash federal healthcare and support programs for the poor and needy, while cutting taxes for corporations and the rich.

Medicare, who needs it?

Gingrich told Republicans to kowtow to Tea Partiers. “House GOP timidity would lead the Tea Parties and activists (including talk radio) to focus their frustration on House Republicans. Boldness will convince them to focus on Democratic opposition to our solution," advised Newt.

The former Speaker wants GOPers to take a page from his playbook and introduce a shiny new “Contract with America”-- as if the original version did any good. A revised Contact is to pave the way for Republicans to pick up 40 more House seats, a dozen Senate seats and the White House (with Newt in the Oval Office?). That’s a truly scary scenario.

I look forward to receiving the Newt Gingrich letter, where all things are not political. [Sign up for a free sub for the Newt Gingrich letter at]

There are book tips. “Nine Days that Changed the World” about Pope John Paul II’s pilgrimage to Poland is featured in the library of the recently converted Catholic Gingrich. Newt and third wife Callista focus on a charity of the month. The Autism Society gets the nod for April.

Readers gain insights from Newt’s triumphant return to Tulane University, where he was honored with its “distinguished alumnus award.” On his trip to the Big Easy, Newt was able to squeeze in a trip to the Audubon Zoo with his grandkids. In the letter, Newt thanks Ron Forman, president of the zoo for the opportunity to visit. I must remember to thank the president of the New York Aquarium next time I time I take my daughter to visit the penguins, walruses and sharks.

Thank you, Newt. I hope you keep writing your letter if the presidential thing doesn’t work out for you.