NEWT ON JACK …. Last August when the DC Rotary Club asked Newt Gingrich to speak at a luncheon at Hotel Washington, members had no idea that Gingrich?s talk would happen to fall on the day after Jack Abramoff?s guilty plea shook Washington.

Glancing at the packed ballroom and the crowd of reporters and TV news cameras, the woman who organized the event told me, ?It?s serendipitous. We?re happy to be able to provide a forum for….? ? she struggled to find the right word ? ?this sort of thing.? By that, she meant granting a platform for the man who led the class of 1994 Republican gate-crashers to hold forth on what?s happened since that revolution ossified.

Newt’s not happy, and says the more he learns the angrier he gets. He said he thought Abramoff should go to jail, but added:

?This is not about one person doing bad things. You can?t have a corrupt lobbyist unless you have a corrupt member [of Congress] or a corrupt staff. This was a team effort … The system created the opportunity for an Abramoff. Abramoff did not create the system.?

Well, surely Abramoff helped nudge things in a certain direction. But the point of the Jack Abramoff story is not really about Jack Abramoff. As Kevin has posted, the real story is that the Abramoff scandal is casting a spotlight on the extent to which K Street over the last decade has become a near seamless extension of the Republican power structure in Washington.

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Christina Larson is a Washington Monthly contributing editor and an award-winning science and environment journalist who has reported from five continents.