When it comes to the Republican majority in the House of Representatives these days, it's a good idea to expect the unexpected.
So perhaps the idea of a freshman congressman from Montana as Speaker of the House isn't as outlandish as it seems.
Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Montana, is considering a run for the speakership, he said Tuesday.
"Well, I'm looking at it," Zinke said in a statement. "The Speaker is about leadership and not policy, and we're at a point in our nation's history where we've had a Speaker resign, we've had a presumptive Speaker resign and quite frankly we're facing what I think is a leadership crisis.
"In our country's leadership there have been other freshmen Speakers -- though it has been a long time."
He added, "It's about getting Congress to do their duty -- and that's defending the principles that made this country strong and defending the Constitution. ... our phones are ringing off the hook because I think America wants something different."
Zinke, a former Navy Seal and member of the famed Seal Team Six, "hasn't decided" to run, but "what I have decided is that (we in) Congress better do our duty," he said.
Zinke, who is on a three-day Montana bus tour, could not be immediately reached for comment, as he was appearing at events in Sidney and Glendive Tuesday afternoon.
His Communications Director, Heather Swift, said, "Montana has a history of setting precedents," pointing out that the state sent Jeannette Rankin to the House of Representatives "before she could even vote for herself," and also that the state sent "the first Navy Seal to the House."
After Rep. John Boehner, a 13-term congressman from Ohio, announced his intention to resign as speaker, Majority Leader Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, five-term Californian, was considered the presumptive choice. But McCarthy quickly ran afoul of the Freedom Caucus, a group of 40 of Congress' most conservative Republicans, who made it clear they would not vote for him. So he pulled out of the running last week, throwing the delegation into chaos.
Since then, many have pleaded with Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and running mate to Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential campaign, to announce a run for speaker. Ryan, widely thought to be one of the only "establishment" Republicans who could garner support from the Freedom Caucus, initially declined to be a candidate, but has more recently said he's thinking about it — which has effectively left the selection process in limbo as the delegation waits for him to make up his mind.
Some have said even Ryan may not have the conservative credentials to satisfy the rebellious caucus.
Zinke, too, will undoubtedly come under fire from the most conservative congressmen -- if the comments on an article about Zinke's potential candidacy on the conservative Breitbart.com site are any indication.
"Thanks for your service but a big NO thank you ... no amnesty supporters please," one said.
"While I completely respect Zinke's service, he has voted as a RINO (Republican in name only)," said another.
Zinke is right -- it has been a long time since there was a freshman Speaker of the House.
Try two hundred and four years.
Henry Clay was elected Speaker on the first day of his first term in the House of Representatives in 1811.