The political history of Texas been shaped by colorful, headline-grabbing politicians. From Sam Houston to Lyndon Johnson to Ann Richards to Rick Perry, the characters who’ve achieved high office in this state are famous for their big personalities and the distinctive ways they talk and act. While we would not necessarily describe northeast Texas congressman Louie Gohmert as the political heir to any of those figures, he carries on their tradition of making news after opening his mouth (usually to say something surprising, but sometimes to lose a tooth). To help readers keep track of his sayings and doings, we’ve created Louie Gohmert Watch, as your clearinghouse for news about the representative for Texas’s First Congressional District. 

November 19, 2021: Ghosting a radio host
November 9, 2021: Running for Texas attorney general, maybe?
October 26, 2021: “Debunking” the insurrection
June 11, 2021: Changing Earth’s orbit
May 20, 2021: Not “the dumbest guy in Congress”

June 7, 2022: Sharing Two Complaints

It’s been a while since we last checked in with our protagonist, Louie Gohmert, the representative from Texas’s First Congressional District. Let’s begin with a brief recap: Since last November, Louie finally committed to running for Texas attorney general—but GOP voters did not likewise commit to him, and he washed out of the primary in a fourth-place finish. His decision to pursue statewide office marked the beginning of the end of his tenure in Congress, as he could only appear on the primary ballot in pursuit of one office. (The GOP nominated Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran as its candidate to replace him; he’ll face Democrat Jrmar Jefferson in November.) 

With Louie a lame duck, there have been fewer opportunities to focus on the man who wanted you to know he is not the dumbest guy in Congress. But Gohmert managed to claw his way back into the news last week with not one but two high-profile incidents. 

First, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, he protested that his party’s opposition to gun control measures was being misconstrued by Democrats. U.S. representative Eric Swalwell, from California, had suggested that if the committee’s Republicans were opposed to the measures he sought in order to protect children, the congressman and his colleagues might pay respects at the funeral of the gunman in Uvalde instead. Gohmert responded, “I don’t think that it’s very effective for the children to have people on the other side of the aisle come in and accuse Republicans of being complicit in murder.” He worked himself into a bit of a lather during the remarks, which he delivered via Zoom. “How dare you!” Louie insisted. “You think we don’t have hearts?”

Lest you believe that even heated, emotional exchanges in Congress might represent an evolution of the debate beyond its current stagnant frame, Gohmert followed his outburst by condemning Swalwell, who represents a slice of the eastern Bay Area, for the crime rate in Austin, Chicago, and Philadelphia, among other cities, a talking point that would feel like a non sequitur if it weren’t so frequently repeated. The hearing did not resolve the debate over guns in Congress, alas. 

Perhaps having enjoyed his time back in the spotlight, Louie appeared on NewsMax on Friday to lament the prosecution of former Trump adviser Peter Navarro. Navarro, under investigation for his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election, was indicted for contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena; Gohmert declared the arrest a politically motivated hatchet job. What did the man who had recently sought Texas’s top law enforcement job have to say? “If you’re a Republican, you can’t even lie to Congress or lie to an FBI agent, or they’re coming after you,” he opined. 

Gohmert is correct that Republicans can get in trouble for lying to FBI agents. The context that this complaint misses, however, is that anyone who lies to an FBI agent faces prosecution. In fact, lying to an FBI agent is one of the best ways to get yourself slapped with federal charges. Are there some folks who can commit this crime with impunity? We are not so naive as to say that the FBI has never let someone who dared tell a falsehood to one of its agents off the hook. However, Louie’s lament suggests that he believes that the enforcement of the law should be rare—and reserved for non-Republicans. 

Will there be more Louie moments to document in his waning months in Congress? Recent history suggests there may be! And we have to say: it’s good to have him back in the headlines. 

November 19, 2021: Ghosting a radio host

On Thursday, Mark Davis of Dallas 660 AM talk radio announced an exciting guest would be calling in Friday morning: Louie Gohmert. The East Texas congressman had announced in a press conference nine days earlier that he was exploring a bid for state attorney general, and would formalize a decision in ten days based on his ability to raise $1 million dollars in the interim. It seemed last night as if Davis would have an exclusive in the morning. 

Gohmert, however, never called in. In a plotline ripped directly from the current season of Succession, Gohmert ghosted the host. His failure to meet the scheduled 8:35 a.m. call-in time begot a “now hoping for 9:05” announcement from Davis, and eventually, an “efforts under way” tweet from the radio host with 38 minutes remaining in the three-hour broadcast. 

Those efforts proved insufficient. Davis spent the entire show fielding listener calls, and talking about topics ranging from the Kyle Rittenhouse trial to when to put Christmas lights on your house (Davis likes to do it before Thanksgiving, a point of contention among his callers). He eventually speculated on why Gohmert failed to make his scheduled appearance. “If they raised the million dollars, I think they’d be driven by adrenaline to crow about it an hour ago, so maybe that didn’t happen?” he asked with fifteen minutes remaining in the program. “Prove me wrong, guys!” 

Davis’s logic is sound, though we won’t know for absolute certain what Gohmert’s political future is—let alone how much money he actually raised—until he makes some sort of announcement. The whole rollout of the potential campaign has been bizarre. When Gohmert made his announcement ten days ago, the press conference was not livestreamed. Observers were left to speculate on whether he was running at all, or if the website that looked to all the world like a Louie-for-AG campaign site was some sort of hoax. He cleared that up by eventually uploading the video of his announcement of an exploratory committee, and tweeting links to the fundraising page that was critical to his campaign’s chances of going from “exploratory” to “oh yeah, baby, it’s happening.” 

For now, it seems likely that the marketplace of ideas and campaign donors decided it did not believe Gohmert’s presence in the attorney general’s race was worth a million dollars. 

November 9, 2021: Running for Texas attorney general, maybe?

On Tuesday morning, Louie Gohmert announced a press conference regarding his political future. The event was to be livestreamed from a Holiday Inn in Gohmert’s hometown of Tyler. Spectators who tuned into the event from elsewhere, however, were not greeted by the sight of Gohmert making a campaign announcement. The live feed was empty, displaying only 31 minutes and 22 seconds of the void. 

What was Gohmert planning to announce? It’s not entirely clear, but the newly launched offers a clue. The website, which went live today and is identified as being “Paid for by Louie Gohmert for Texas Attorney General Campaign,” suggests that the East Texas congressman might be running for Texas attorney general. Another clue: the words “Help Elect Louie Gohmert for Texas Attorney General” at the top of the page. Yet another: there’s a campaign sign on the page! 

Does this mean that Gohmert is running for Texas attorney general? Well, maybe. The congressman is rarely shy, but his own social media accounts have been mute on the issue. On the other hand, he clearly intended to announce something today. 

Why would Gohmert choose to run for an office currently held by Ken Paxton, whose positions on red-meat conservative issues including immigration, suing over the 2020 election results, and how awesome he thinks Donald Trump is would seem to make him Gohmert’s political soulmate? makes a compelling case. “We need a Texas Attorney General whose top attorneys working for him have not found it necessary to send a letter to the FBI urging an investigation into corruption of their boss,” it reads, referencing a note seven senior Paxton aides sent to law enforcement in October 2020 alleging the attorney general had abused his office and accepted a bribe. The website also explains the fierce urgency of the current moment, noting that Paxton has proven uncommonly vulnerable to a Democratic challenger: In 2018, he won reelection by only a 3.5-point margin over a political newcomer, 10 points worse than Greg Abbott performed the same year. That year Paxton faced a felony indictment on the charge he had committed securities fraud; now he’s still facing that charge and an FBI investigation, as well. 

The second half of the pitch focuses on the current crop of GOP figures who’ve already announced challenges to Paxton—former Texas Supreme Court justice Eva Guzman, state representative (and leader of a high school library book purge) Matt Krause, and the last scion of the Bush dynasty still in politics, land commissioner George P. Bush. argues the crew is not up for the task. Gohmert, unlike the others, is a proven fund-raiser with a national profile whose conservative bona fides are not in doubt. For Republicans who like what Paxton has done in his role and in owning the libs, but who are concerned about the ongoing legal problems, Gohmert makes a compelling option, the website argues. 

Along with the pitch on, of course, comes the plea: In order to take the primary challenge from exploratory to active, the site explains, Gohmert will need $1 million. “The proper documents have been filed to seek donations,” the site declares, “Louie needs 100,000 citizens to send $100 each (or any other amount to get to $1,000,000) by November 19.” (Which would actually get him to $10 million, but what’s an extra $9 million among friends?) 

There’s a logic to a Gohmert campaign, in other words, even if it’s unclear if such a thing will materialize. In any case, the clock is ticking. The November 19 deadline sets is fast approaching, which means that if he launches tomorrow, he’ll need to raise $110,000 a day to get there. 

Will he formally announce? Those at the Holiday Inn in Tyler have a better idea.  

October 26, 2021: “Debunking” the insurrection

On Sunday, Gohmert’s name appeared in a report detailing some of the evidence that’s come before the U.S. select committee that is investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. According to Rolling Stone, two organizers of the January 6 rally that preceded the storming of the building say that in the weeks before the event, they met with seven members of Congress or their staffers who were “intimately involved” in planning the demonstration. One of the seven who they say they met, or met the staffers of, is a Texas congressman: Gohmert. 

There’s little detail of what, specifically, the two organizers allege Gohmert or his staff’s involvement in those conversations was. Most of the report focuses on representatives Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Gohmert released a statement on Twitter in which he described the report as “baseless allegations of a crime,” and demanded that Rolling Stone identify the anonymous sources “for the purpose of a potential defamation lawsuit,” adding that “no one in my office, including me, participated in the planning of the rally or in any criminal activity on January 6.” 

The details of the allegation are likely to get more specific—though not in the immediate term, as the committee’s target to complete the investigation isn’t until early spring of next year

Before the riot at the capitol, Gohmert filed a lawsuit in December to try to authorize vice president Mike Pence to discount the votes in select states. The representative has also frequently argued in defense of those who breached the Capitol. In July, he and a handful of other Republican lawmakers held a press conference outside the Justice Department, claiming that defendants arrested for their involvement in the riots have been treated unfairly and were “political prisoners.” Just last Thursday, Gohmert asked Attorney General Merrick Garland during a House Judiciary Committee hearing if any of the defendants being prosecuted by the Justice Department had been charged with “insurrection.” Garland responded in the negative, and the East Texas representative later proudly tweeted a link to a story from the conservative website Townhall that described the exchange as “debunking” the idea that the events of January 6 constituted an insurrection. Which all suggests that, whatever comes out of the House committee regarding Gohmert’s alleged involvement with the January 6 organizers, we’ll hear his name associated with that date many times in the weeks and months to come. 

June 11, 2021: Changing Earth’s orbit

During a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee, Gohmert broached a new idea to fight climate change, during his questioning of Jennifer Eberlein, associate deputy chief of the U.S. Forest Service. As she fielded queries about a handful of bills, mostly about special permitting changes in national parks, Gohmert brought up climate change, asking, “Is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM [the Bureau of Land Management] can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit, or the Earth’s orbit around the sun?” Eberlein, whose work primarily involves addressing more terrestrial affairs, promised to “follow up with you on that one,” to which Gohmert replied that he’d “like to know” what the Forest Service official found.

It appears that Gohmert was inquiring about a novel idea—that if the Earth were further from the sun, whether because its orbit was changed or the gravitational pull of the moon were altered, the planet would be cooler. Changing the planet’s orbit would have the advantage of allowing humanity to address the existential threat of global warming without having to reduce carbon emissions. It would not, however, be easy: to prevent the Earth’s temperature from rising by three degrees Celsius (or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit), as it’s expected to do by 2060, the planet would have to shift 1,866,000 miles farther from the sun. (For context, the moon, in its current orbit, is around 239,000 miles from the Earth.) The energy required to push our 13-octillion ton planet that far would, according to an estimate from Scientific American, be many, many, many millions times larger than all the energy the planet currently produces. 

It’s also possible that Gohmert, despite his guileless demeanor, wasn’t sincerely asking the forestry official to alter the planet’s orbit. He may have been making a sarcastic point about the efficacy of attempts to combat climate change, which in his mind is a cosmic phenomenon that none of us can do anything about. That belief is inconsistent with the scientific consensus around the issue, but Gohmert has long prided himself on being an independent thinker.

May 20, 2021: Not “the dumbest guy in Congress”

In a speech on the House floor that touched on a variety of topics, including his belief that Vermont senator Bernie Sanders intends to send American billionaires to “gulags,” Gohmert blamed America’s flagging SAT scores on President Jimmy Carter’s creation of the U.S. Department of Education in 1979. The move has long rankled small-government conservatives, but Gohmert took pains to affirm his special expertise on the matter. He said that while some may think he’s “the dumbest guy in Congress,” he did well on his standardized tests when he took them. The whole affair had echoes of Virginia senator William Scott, who in 1974 held a press conference to declare that, contrary to media reports, he was not the dumbest member of Congress.  

SAT scores did decline in the U.S. in the 1970s, but Gohmert’s timeline differs from the one that actually transpired. Scores started to dip in 1975, four years before the DoE was created, and then began to rise in the mid-1980’s. As of 2020, math scores have risen roughly 30 points from their early eighties nadir, while reading comprehension scores dipped roughly 10 points from that time, until rising again after the test’s recent overhaul. Gohmert, who graduated from high school forty years ago, did not indicate what he scored on the SAT. 

CORRECTION: This post has been updated with the correct spelling of Marjorie Taylor Greene.