Trouble in Paradise?

Posted May 9, 2003 at 6:13pm

In addition to going on at length about the couple’s prenup and her regular Botox treatments, ketchup queen Teresa Heinz Kerry may have given Sen. John Kerry

(D-Mass.) another reason for indigestion.

The H.J. Heinz Co. appears to be offering aid and comfort to the Senator’s enemies by firing off a letter to Members of Congress last Thursday voicing “strong

support” for President Bush’s growth and stimulus tax package.

“In particular, we believe that the elimination, or, at a minimum, the significant reduction of the double taxation on dividends is one of the most economically potent actions Congress could take to stimulate the economy,” wrote Catherine Caponi, director of government affairs for Heinz.

She added that the plan will “lift the stock market by promoting investment and, therefore, drive growth” — a statement that sounds like it came right out of a Bush message memo.

“While Heinz has 57 variations, it seems that the only one that keeps popping out for Kerry is trouble,” joked an adviser to one rival candidate.

The ketchup heiress does not sit on the company’s board and only runs its philanthropic arm, but she clearly gets her dough from Heinz. The company’s position on the Bush plan would seem to run counter to the positions of Kerry, who has been a sharp critic of Bush’s plan. But then again, the Senator has flip-flopped a bit on the dividend tax-cut idea.

Kerry called for “ending the double taxation on dividends” last December. But when Bush made that provision a centerpiece of his own economic plan in January, Kerry said the package was marred by “ineffective and unaffordable tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.”

All of this raises an interesting question: If the Heinz Co. cashes in from a dividend tax cut, wouldn’t that give the Heinz family more money to fund the Kerry presidential campaign if he ends up dipping into the ketchup fortune?

“The Heinz family has had no direct relationship with the corporation since 1966,” Kerry spokesman David Wade told HOH. “So the bad news is that means Teresa Heinz Kerry can’t take credit for those terrific ‘E-Z squirt bottles,’ but the good news is she can’t be blamed for purple ketchup or the Bush tax plan, either.”

In the new issue of Elle magazine, meanwhile, the famously outspoken wife doesn’t disappoint. “Everybody has a prenup,” she says at one point. “You have to have a prenup. You’ve got to have a prenup. You could be as generous or as sensitive as you want. But you have to have a prenup.”

As for the Botox treatments, she said, “In fact I need another one. Soon.”

Cat-ter Up! Democratic staffers say they were stunned to learn the name of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) softball team.

The Frist team is known as the “Lab Cats,” according to the schedule of games distributed to Senate offices.

Frist, of course, has been criticized for his admission that he experimented on cats he had adopted from Boston animal shelters under the guise of making them pets during his med school days. The Senator has said he “deeply regretted” the cat contretemps.

“It’s like if Bill Bennett named his next book ‘Double Down,’” cracked one senior Democratic aide.

A Frist aide told HOH that the staff had used that moniker in previous seasons as a way of “poking fun at their boss” over his past. The name has been made more political correct — it’s now the “Tennessee Trailblazers” — but has not been updated on the schedule.

Secret Crush? Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) raised some eyebrows by delivering an off-color routine at Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-Ore.) Seventh Annual Comedy Night fundraiser last week.

The single Weiner, perhaps best known for allegedly trying to pick up an intern in an episode recounted in a legendary Vanity Fair piece about dating in Washington, suggested to the crowd that he has his eye on Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) these days.

The Congressman performed his act in a muscle shirt, acting like a Brooklyn tough guy, with a certain four-letter expletive popping up every few words. Part of his routine focused on how Congress gets bashed, but he also argued that some lawmakers are actually “hot,” such as Tauscher.

“I wouldn’t mind having sex with Ellen Tauscher,” Weiner joked. “But I’m afraid that it would be like a praying mantis deal and she’d bite my head off when we were done.”

Let’s just say that the line didn’t go over well with everyone. “It was so completely inappropriate it was shocking,” griped one Democrat attendee.

Weiner, who participates in the comedy event sporadically, told HOH that his routine got some pretty good reaction. But he was not surprised that some were offended.

“Every time I do this Blumenauer thing I get in trouble,” he said with a laugh. “I think next time I’ll just say no.”

But Weiner said he mentioned the joke on Thursday morning to Tauscher, who left the Blumenauer event early and didn’t hear the original routine. “She got a kick out of it,” he said.

Tauscher, however, didn’t sound too impressed when HOH asked for her reaction. “Let’s hope his pickup lines are better than his punch lines,” she cracked.

Tauscher, who always has a theme to her routine at the Blumenauer bash, showed up this year in a flight suit to tweak Bush’s landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

“Were you guys nervous when you saw the plane land? Talk about a faith-based initiative,” she joked.

As for Bush’s plane going from a speed of 120 knots to a dead stop, she added, “Kind of like the economy when he took office. … Last time President Bush was that high, he was leaving a frat house in New Haven.”

Another highlight came from Rep. Max Sandlin (D-Texas), who tweaked the bicycle enthusiast Blumenauer. “He spends so much time in the bicycle caucus that he doesn’t have time to find a girlfriend,” he joked.

Sandlin proceeded to enumerate the many reasons why bicycles are better than girlfriends — including the fact that “bicycles don’t care if you buy bicycle magazines.”

Peace on the Beach. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), the long-shot presidential candidate, was planning to spend Mother’s Day on the beach with Arianna Huffington.

The duo aren’t related — as far as we know. They were merely coming together to help lead a rally on the Left Coast to “reclaim Mother’s Day from commercialism and platitudes, to celebrate women’s political engagement in society, and to continue the call for an International Movement of Women for Peace,” according to an invite.

“We remind the world with our peaceful presence,” they added of the rally at Ocean Park Beach in Santa Monica. “Mother knows best!”

In the Arena. Arena Stage is holding its annual special event for politicians and local celebs with a performance of “Dr. Thunderfinger,” a James Bond spoof, tonight.

Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) are among the actors. Journalists David Broder, Susan Stamberg and Nina Totenberg will also be featured.

Ex-Rep. Fred Grandy (R-Iowa), former star of the “Love Boat,” plays the character of “Triple-O Seventy” in the play. Author Kitty Kelley plays “Kitty Galore,” who captures the Washington press corps in a bid for world domination.

“Don’t expect me to give up without a fight, Galore,” says Broder.

“I don’t,” says Kelley. “I just expect you to be edited to death!”

Ba-da-boom.