history lessons from the great teachers

Gingrich Lies To Potheads About Dope-Growing Founding Fathers

Mount Cushmore

Settled in to roost in New Hampshire for the next week, Republican candidate Newt Gingrich was faced with some pretty zany questions Wednesday afternoon during a town hall meeting with his potential suitors. Talking health care, asteroid travel, and marijuana, faraway-galaxy-dwelling Gingrich was, as Observer reporter Paul Harris noted, “brought down to earth” by the relative far-outness of some of the audience members. One attendee asked for the candidate’s thoughts on legal homegrown pot, to which Gingrich harked back to his knowledge base, HISTORY, and dropped some knowledge (actually misinformation! love that history!) on how Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and George Washington would have felt about marijuana.

Said Newt:

“I think Jefferson or George Washington would have rather strongly discouraged you from growing marijuana, and their techniques of dealing with it would have been more violent.”

Really! Picturing a guillotine here. One would speculate that it was probably more lax back then, in the Time Before Science. Helpfully, the Straight Dope did a very thorough review of the matter back in 2009, and found that Washington and Jefferson attempted to farm the stuff, but more to make money (hemp being used for all kinds of things like socks and paper) than to medicate/try to enjoy life:

Both Washington and Jefferson tried growing hemp on their Virginia farms, with mixed success. Washington used some of what he grew to make hemp clothing worn by his slaves. However, U.S. hemp exported to Britain often was of such poor quality that it couldn’t be sold, and Washington was never able to turn a profit on the crop despite sustained effort. Jefferson also seems to have grown hemp strictly for local consumption, from which we deduce he couldn’t make money at it either. In short, not only were Washington and Jefferson marijuana farmers, they were unsuccessful marijuana farmers.

Booooring! [Washington Times, H/T Paul Harris]

About the author

Liz is a writer. She has written for this site, evidently, and also The Awl, The San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, The Economist and others. She is the author of a short story collection, Cover Story.

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  1. nounverb911

    Gingrinch lied? Didn't just this morning Newt promised to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?

    1. Tundra Grifter

      Remember the George Costanza rule: It's not a lie if you think it's true when you say it.

      1. Maman

        George also believed that all of his instincts were incorrect and that to be successful he should do the EXACT opposite of what his instincts told him to do. So. Let inform your opinion of the Newtster.

    2. Negropolis

      He didn't lie. But, just like a lot of other Gingrichisms, he didn't know of the shit of which he speaks.

    1. HempDogbane

      What are the odds that the Constitution itself is written on paper made, at least in part, from hemp?

  2. Tundra Grifter

    Too bad the local didn't ask Ole Newt about the Founding Fathers' views of "covering" their female slaves. I read Mandingo, so I think I know what I'm writing about here.

  3. johnnymeatworth

    Newt must have been stoned out of his fucking mind to think that Washington and Jefferson would have disapproved of growing pot….

    1. BaldarTFlagass

      I'm quite the successful marijuana consumer, though, so I have that going for me, at least.

      1. valgal2342

        Down in Appalachia 100 years ago, the hemp/pot plant was commonly called, "Everlasting Life". I have no idea why, but I like it.

  4. Harry_S_Truman

    Wow, how could Gingy be so wrong? I'll bet no one ever tried to pay him to be a historical consultant.

    1. gullywompr

      Behind every good man there is a woman, and that woman was Martha Washington, man, and everyday George would come home, she would have a big fat bowl waiting for him, man, when he come in the door, man, she was a hip, hip, hip lady, man.

      1. BaldarTFlagass

        Argh, beat me to it!!!

        To the Back-up Mobile!!
        "George Washington was in a cult, and the cult was into aliens, man. Didja ever look at a dollar bill, man? There's some spooky shit goin' on there. And it's green too. "

    2. Loaded_Pants

      Definitely in Ol' Benny Franklin's. He wrote in "Toke Proudly" that was how he got his best ideas.

      1. PalinzADummy

        Laudanum was routinely administered to screaming sproggen, for example, to the great relief, no doubt, of their mothers and nurses. Gripe water, we called it, back in the day.

    3. C_R_Eature

      "Old King Cole George was a Merry Old Soul,
      A Merry Old Soul was He.
      He called for Hie Pipe and He called for His Bowl,
      I guess we all know about Old King Cole George:
      He just wanted to Get Stoned and Dig the Fiddlers!

  5. JackObin

    Next, he'll tell us Jefferson had six chins and ditched his wife just like he did. Give the blimp credit, he knows how to lie.

    1. MissTaken

      At least Jefferson waited till the wifey croaked before having relations with her sister/slave. That's almost respectable!

    1. tessiee

      I'm a book geek, not a science geek, so don't take what I'm saying as gospel — but I think that would pull the moon within Newt's gravitational field.

      1. AlterNewt

        There is, however, no truth to the rumor that John Hay and Henry Adams dealt huge quantities of opium from their curiously conjoined houses in turn-of-the-century D.C.

        1. user-of-owls

          Well really, why would any decent person look askance at members of the "Five of Hearts" club? Except maybe a filthy Jew. Or Czar. Or socialist.

          1. AlterNewt

            Why indeed? Close your eyes and open to any page of their voluminous correspondence. Such nice people.

    1. tessiee

      "Benjamin Franklin's ill fated foray into free basing. "

      Which was actually an ill Sated Soray in to Sree basing.

  6. Numbat_Dundee

    Surely the founding fathers would have said something like: "What need have ye of this puny weed when the apothecary can provide you with a draft of laudanum for your ills?"

  7. Dashboard Buddha

    I read something once about a growing technique Washington used to make the hemp more something. According to the article, this particular technique was recognized as one used to make more potent pot…not useful for making rope at all. I'll try to find it.

    1. doloras

      Washington's diaries talk of separating the male from female plants. That is considered good practice when growing weed for smoking and seems pointless when growing it for industrial purposes.

    2. Crank_Tango

      and then he was all "I cannot tell a lie…I'm so baked right now. I have cotton mouth so bad it feels like my teeth are made of wood, man…."

      1. BaldarTFlagass

        "And I got the munchies so bad I chopped that fucking cherry tree down so I could get at all of those sweet little berries."

  8. JudasPeckerwood

    "In short, not only were Washington and Jefferson marijuana farmers, they were unsuccessful marijuana farmers."

    They were, however, successful presidential candidates, unlike you-know-who.

  9. Schmannnity

    Jefferson, however, was much more successful at creating America's first bong, using a chamber pot and a salvaged pipe bowl.

    1. tessiee

      It's a little known fact that Jefferson planned, designed and built Monticello so that, if the upstairs windows were open and a pinch of ganga put in the fireplace, the building itself actually functioned as a huge bong.

  10. MissTaken

    Tonight at 11!

    Newt tells the NAACP that Washington and Jefferson strongly discouraged the owning of slaves, and their techniques for dealing with slaveholders were more violent.

    1. Fukui_SanYesOta

      Newt Gingrich
      Husband, father, grandfather, citizen, small businessman, author, former Speaker. I'm running for president to offer leadership to solve America's challenges. <a href="http://Newt.org” target=”_blank”>http://Newt.org

      There's a rumor that the Bibble preaches monogamy. Not true. Also Washington had five wives at once and only one got the divorce elbow because of cancer.

  11. jakegittes

    Give the Newtski a double martini (made from really cheap Vodka. Aw fuck, made with isopropy) for that one.

          1. LesBontemps

            Uh, "six-foot eight, weighs a fucking ton." (Alt: "Six-foot twenty, fucking killing for fun.")

    1. LetUsBray

      To borrow from a thread in the mists of wonkette past: George Washington will kill you in your sleep at Christmas.

    2. tessiee

      If he could take Jebediah Springfield, he could kickbox the shit out of Newt without even mussing up his wig.

  12. Harry_S_Truman

    Well, of-fucking-course Washington and Jefferson were unsuccessful marijuana farmers; they were stoned on crack all the time.

  13. SayItWithWookies

    Newt knows that Washington and Jefferson, regardless of historical reality, would've had the good sense to retroactively learn from Newt's mistakes. For instance — that time he sat on a sofa with Nancy Pelosi and advocated cap and trade? High as a fuckin' kite.

  14. BaldarTFlagass

    "their techniques of dealing with it would have been more violent.”

    ♫ I done two tours of duty in Vietnam
    And I came home with a brand new plan
    I take the seed from Colombia and Mexico
    I plant it up the holler down Copperhead Road
    Well the D.E.A.'s got a chopper in the air
    I wake up screaming like I'm back over there
    I learned a thing or two from ol' Charlie don't you know
    You better stay away from Copperhead Road ♫

    1. Tundra Grifter


      Back in them days (Washington and Jefferson, not Steve Earle) didn't most gentlemen farmers also brew their own beer and make their own brandy?

      1. BaldarTFlagass

        Hell, humans have been figuring out ways to get fucked up since they came down out of the baobab trees and started walking upright on the savanna. Probably before that. Every decent estate since Mesopotamian days has probably had a vineyard and a couple acres dedicated to hops, oats, and barley.

  15. JustPixelz

    This actually explains a few things for me.

    Washington reads to Jefferson: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    Jefferson bursts out laughing. "Dude! It says two different things: well-regulated and not be infringed. That is fucked up."

    Washington: "Are you hungry?"

    Jefferson: "And I thought we were agreeing to bare arms, bear arms."

    Washington: "Bear's have arms?! I thought they had paws."

    Jefferson: "Dude!"

    Washington: "Dude!"

    1. Loaded_Pants

      This is true: Preston was a distant relation of my VA/TN ancestors. They were a fightin' bunch, too. Some of their descendants are still making meth.

    2. Negropolis

      Brooks and Keitt were not prosecuted or censured for the attack, and both were overwhelmingly re-elected by their South Carolina constituents.

      My, how little has changed.

  16. owhatever

    Newt is dangerously stupid. In New Hampshire, you always tell voters hell yeah you can grow your own pot and do anything else you want. Live Free or Die, dude. He must like coming in low in the vote count.

    1. tessiee

      "In New Hampshire, you always tell voters hell yeah you can grow your own pot and do anything else you want."

      Well, the Magna Carta doesn't say anything about it, so it must be OK.

  17. Hera Sent Me

    The Founding Fathers would have ground Gingrich into fertilizer and used him to nourish their hemp crops before they entrusted him with any sort of authority.

  18. chascates

    More violent than placing one-third of all young black men in jail for being connected with it? More violent than spending tens of billions in a fruitless campaign to eradicate a weed that can grow anywhere?

    Actually I think adultery is something the Founders might have been more violent in dealing with than growing hemp.

  19. MissTaken

    With Michele out of the race and Perry running around a lake somewhere I was worried that the stupid would be missed. Thank you Newt for keeping the stupid flowing.

  20. weejee

    So Dr. Professor Mr. Speaker Newt is saying TJ was a conservtard? Talk about revisionist history. Professor Owl can you put a well placed talon into Newt's behind?

  21. GregComlish

    I'm surprising Newt didn't bring up that episode of the Jeffersons where Lionel learns the value of a dollar by becoming a part-time janitor while his sister starts smoking ganja and hanging out on the porch.

  22. mrblifil

    Um…in those days people smoked whatever they could get their hands on. In 16th Century Europe, the tobacco of Trinidad was immortalized in song. The songs directly reference what a buzz you could catch off it. I'm sure Washington and Jefferson were perfectly aware of the "medicinal" benefits of herb. And about the only thing a young dude could have said to them to warrant violent retaliation would have been something along the lines of "Long Live the King!"

    In fact here are the King's Singers to give their rendition now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6mQltwfP8Y

  23. BarackMyWorld

    It should be pointed out that Newton Leroy Gingrich, Ph.D., is actually a historian of European history.

    1. Loaded_Pants

      Romney's campaign should point out that we don't want someone who taught Commie History 101 to be President.

  24. rickmaci

    I think the word "zany" best describes the 2012 Teatardlican primary process so far. SMH. Newtly is doing a hell of a job tarnishing the value of a Tulane University Phd..

  25. weejee

    Mittens must be wetting his magic undies with joy now that Perry has chosen to soldier on to South Carolina.

    Did former Senator Lubeandfecal say something naughty about the Tejas Aggies? Piling-on with some bonfire humor about Iowa being Perry's torch song? Otherwise it makes no sense.

    1. flamingpdog

      Dr Francis Thackeray, head of palaeontology, at the Transvaal Museum, said: "This project was initiated in part by a re-reading of Shakespeare's sonnets, in particular, sonnet number 76, where Shakespeare refers to 'invention in a noted weed'.

      And Newt's an amateur paleontologist!!! Why doesn't he know this??

    2. DahBoner

      There are about eight million cannabis takers in this country at the present time. Are they producing anything comparable to Shakespeare's sonnet, I ask…

      Uh, what about Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures?

  26. FakaktaSouth

    Has there ever been a time when people were more willing to say wrong shit outloud on tv, just blatantly, provably wrong? (I know this is the "if you quote me you're a liar" guy but good Lord.)
    Is it the population being so large that there are just MORE of them willing to do this so it seems there are actually two "realities" going on in this country? What is this with just saying whatever you come up with – no facts or knowing stuff needed, just running your fat fucking mouth? I need gravity bong hits at this point. A vaporizer? Whatever the kids do now to smoke A LOT AT ONE TIME. That's what I need now.

    1. tessiee

      "Has there ever been a time when people were more willing to say wrong shit outloud on tv, just blatantly, provably wrong?"

      And other people are UN-willing to call them on it and say, "Good lord, these people are fucking idiots who can't be trusted with a burnt-out match, let alone political power!"?

    2. C_R_Eature

      Well, that's Our Broken Media Environment for you. These people say crazy shit in public because the stenographers employed as reporters these days let them get away with it:
      "Yes, Mr. Gingrich? Jesus & his disciples wrote the Constitution? Satan was a card-carrying member of the ACLU? Aliens took Elvis to Gliese 581g to marry their Queen? How interesting."
      Whet pisses me off is that all these lies can be easily disproved in less than 10 minutes by any average 7th grader with an internet connection. With Video. And "Media Personalities" are paid huge amounts of money to show up on Sunday, grin, preen deliver the CW of the day & be totally incompetent in analyzing the day's real News.
      AARGH. Why is the Rum always Gone?

      1. Jukesgrrl

        Even when these people are provided with facts, statistics, and even video, they reply, "Well, that's just your opinion." Not only do people not seem to comprehend the concept of cause and effect, they also refuse to accept that an opinion is not the same thing as a fact. The Ailesification of America.

    3. BaldarTFlagass

      "I need gravity bong hits at this point. A vaporizer? Whatever the kids do now to smoke A LOT AT ONE TIME. That's what I need now."

      You need the Atomic Bong. Equipped with a belt-driven supercharger similar to that found on high-performance European sedans and Top Fuel Funny Car dragsters, the Atomic Bong will drive the sweet numbing smoke through the roof of your mouth directly to your brain at velocities approaching Mach one, producing a buzz that lasts days, weeks, or even months.

      1. FakaktaSouth

        Holy Smokes that is EXACTLY what I need…bypass the lungs, straight to the brain, no muss, no fuss, no thinking about nothing – much less these stupid, lying assholes. I like it!

        1. prommie

          You must not get the quality stuff down there in Jurrasic Park; the weed they grow these days, holy shit, its not a matter of forcing more into yourself, its a matter of being very very careful to titrate. Strong isn't the word. Not at all like the days of $25 OZs of Mexican Blonde.

          1. FakaktaSouth

            Hyperbole aside, I'm all about efficiency (and it's still the number one cash crop in the state) but weed with Names that cost a hundred an eighth is over my head. Look here, it's Jack Herrera with Blueberry Cush (kush?) and some strain of British Columbian basement gold…Like Dennis Leary said, whatever happened to smoking a joint (Brick-weed baby ewww) eating some twinkies, watching tv and going to fucking bed? But I ain't above hanging with folks that like snotty weed by no means.

          2. BaldarTFlagass

            My dealer brings in shit from some medical marijuana store up in Colorado. Plushberry, Sour Diesel, Armageddon, Sweet Tooth, etc. Of course, in straight life he's a wine rep, and he describes the smoke the same way he describes wine, but with different adjectives for the taste, and descriptors for the buzz type. Hey, dude, you can call it Kansas Side-of-the-Road Utility Grade Ditch Weed for all I care, as long as it changes the channel for me. But all my dirt-weed connections are long gone and I can only get the $125/quarter stuff anymore. Haven't bought rolling papers in a decade or more.

          3. FakaktaSouth

            My buddy in Colorado (nine plants a house???) keeps telling me to come up there. When I decide what I am gonna be when I grow up, that might be the place I do it. (And I'll be a farmer)
            I learned everything I know abt Sour Diesel from a Florida football player's twitter. It sounds like a trainwreck. (Or that it wd make a trainwreck funner to watch) These kids today with all their cash for fed ex are amazing. (Shakes fist)

          4. prommie

            I don't like snotty weed, its just all there IS around here. People think I am kidding when I ask for middling stuff.

          5. FakaktaSouth

            Wow it really IS the Garden State. I've been meeeeaning to get to Franklin Lakes for a Real Housewives of NJ tour – talk about incentive to get out of town. (like I need incentive. btw, jurassic park – very good.)

  27. mnotrtoo

    How could a president who grew opium poppies in his "medicinal garden" as Jefferson did have dealt more violently with someone else smoking their hemp?

  28. flamingpdog

    "I think Jefferson or George Washington would have rather strongly discouraged you from growing marijuana, and their techniques of dealing with it would have been more violent," he said, in response to a question.

    Snark off:
    What kind of moronic answer is this? More violent than what? And why would their techniques have been more violent? What clown college did Bozo get his diploma from, anyway? I think Marcus must have left one of his dildoes up Newt's ass as a going-away present, because this clown is just farting out of his mouth now.

  29. tessiee

    “I think Jefferson or George Washington would have rather strongly discouraged you from growing marijuana, and their techniques of dealing with it would have been more violent.”

    Translation: "Back in MY day, they didn't just put those dope-smoking hippies in prison, they KILLED them! Now you kids get off my lawn!"

  30. tessiee

    Newt is such a Jeebus-lovin' serial adulterer that he believes in Creation history as well as Creation science.

  31. littlebigdaddy

    Dude, I have been reincarnated several times. Believe me, GW could suck on a bong. Franklin wasn't bad, but Jefferson always wanted to give you a blow job after the first couple of hits.
    Dr. Ron Paul

  32. Negropolis

    Can I just say that I love that New Gingrich is reverting back to Old Gingrich? You know, the Gingrich that doesn't mind cutting a bitch? Like Crystal Pepsi, New Gingrich sucked balls.

  33. BZ1

    Paul Krugman summed up the Newt's appeal quite succinctly: "he’s a stupid man’s idea of what a smart person sounds like."

  34. DaRooster

    You don't try to "Out Grow" the Founders of Shit… they will beat your ass out of the business.

  35. Isyaignert

    Wait a minute! Isn't this the same douchebag (Gnewt) who wanted to shoot people who enjoy God's flowers, yet he himself once partook? Typical two-faced RepubliCON!

  36. Isyaignert

    Sorry for the nitpik, but it's actually Newton Leroy Gingrich. However, I spell his name Gnewt because he's just a fukkin' annoying bug to me (like a gnat).

  37. prommie

    Liz, come on, are you Slater-San? This is all right out of Dazed and Confused: "Behind every good man there is a woman, and that woman was Martha Washington, man, and everyday George would come home, she would have a big fat bowl waiting for him, man, when he come in the door, man, she was a hip, hip, hip lady, man."
    Lets betake us now to the Hashfire Inn! Then we can invite over some immigrants and build cars!

  38. DahBoner

    I'm surprised Gittin'rich didn't have Crazy Eyes explain why the Founding Fathers hated Obama Care

  39. lulzmonger

    Yes indeed, teh Colonials were very concerned about hemp in the Colonies.
    In fact, they passed the first American law regarding the growing of The Devil's Weed.

    It was FUCKING MANDATORY by law – & you'd be harshly fined if you DIDN'T grow some.

    Odds that Blowjob-Boy knows this already = roughly 100%. That fat fuck must go through Listerine by the 40-gallon drum to get the constant stink of corporate cock out of his breath.

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