NEWT'S RETURN. Of all the conservative writers who emerged from The Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson by far was my favorite. Which is why I summon up his valedictory to Speaker Newt Gingrich here in the context of Gingrich's sudden reemergence channeling Charles Martel through the voice of Kermit The Frog. Over the weekend, you may have noticed, the former intellectual anchor of the history department at Billy Bob's College And Bait Shack took to the parapets of the Washington Post op-ed page in order to rally us all to his banner.

Whenever Newt starts getting giddy like this, it's important to remember the following passage from Ferguson's farewell:

Gingrich's ambitions, it turned out, were even vaster than those suggested by his five-page prospectus. A couple of years later, the House Ethics Committee released an appendix to its report on the Speaker's various ethics problems. The appendix was an amazing compendium of Gingrich's notes, speech drafts, memos and correspondence -- a glimpse into the soul of Newtworld's architect during his private moments. It included, among much else, a handwritten note by Gingrich from December 1992. "Gingrich -- primary mission," it read in part. "Advocate of civilization. Definer of civilization. Teacher of the rules of civilization...Leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces."

I always thought the "(possibly)" was charmingly modest.

Now that Newt's declared World War III on behalf of the rest of us, fashioning a stage on which his megalomania can gambol freely, it's incumbent to remember the rule that first applied to Gingrich that, to our ongoing misery as a nation, we forgot over the last seven years:

They Really Mean It.

--Charles P. Pierce