Sept. 14 2006 11:12 AM

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       "Mister, I'll read a comic book for a dollar if you've got one," said one passer-by.

        In a second, related allegation, the Class War article also raised a new round of questions about Gingrich's discovery of a dinosaur fossil last year in Montana. Gingrich allegedly found the bone while on a two-day vacation in Livingstone, staying at a $350-a-night lodge and digging during the day with, among others, Hollywood actor Peter Fonda, who maintains a residence in the area. On the second day of his two-day trip, sources said, Gingrich disappeared in a rented Ford Explorer, leading to rumors that he had either been given the fossil by local Republican officials or taken it illegally from public land.

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       Page said yesterday that she is now investigating allegations that Gingrich acquired the bone as a favor to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, head of the Korean-based Unification Church, for whom fossilized remains have totemic significance.

       "This story is going to be bigger than Watergate," she said.

       In answer to questions about the bone, Gingrich told reporters yesterday in Zimbabwe that "It's against the law, I think, to buy dinosaur bones." Gingrich then pre-empted all further questions, saying he had "scientific work to do."

Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer at The New Yorker.