New and Improved Clinton

Posted February 25, 2004 at 6:50pm

Trying to recharge her batteries after a grueling year of writing and promoting her memoir, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) snuck away on Friday to the swank Canyon Ranch health resort in Massachusetts.

The resort, which also has a location in Arizona, is frequented by Hollywood stars and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Queen Noor when they want to relax with some high-end spa and wellness treatments — as well as participate in rigorous

exercise and nutrition management programs. (The menus are known to list calories and grams of fat — rather than prices — next to the food items.)

Clinton put in a quick visit to the location in Western Massachusetts.

“The stunning Berkshire Mountains and classic New England setting add to the area’s captivating charm,” boasts the resort’s Web site.

“Canyon Ranch has been called the ‘land of ahhhhhhhhs,’” adds the site. “That has a lot to do with our massages and body therapies. Not only do they feel wonderful, they answer your body’s needs for healing and pleasure.”

The normally loquacious Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines declined to comment on the getaway. But he e-mailed a link to the Cambridge Dictionary definition for the words “private” and “privacy.”

Harkin’s Apprentice. Amy Harkin, daughter of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), will star today in a daytime reality show on NBC.

The program, “Starting Over,” features women seeking out a “life coach” to help guide them toward personal or professional fulfillment.

“I am proud to support both my daughters,” the Senator told HOH. “Amy and I spoke during and after the filming of ‘Starting Over’ and she was very pleased with the experience. The show gave her exposure to life coaches and other resources to help her reach her career and life goals and she feels the program was a success.”

Young Harkin, a Princeton University graduate who is married to Steve Goodrich (a pro basketball player in Kiev, Ukraine), is looking for career advice.

Some folks on the startingoverfans.com Web site are clearly looking forward to her appearance today.

“This should prove interesting,” wrote one blogger, “you’d think that someone from her sort of background (Ivy league education, professional basketball player husband) would have the cash to start over without going on a reality tv show. Amy must have some exhibitionist tendencies!”

Another blogger thought Harkin sounded a bit “stuck up” in a preview for the show that featured her showing up at the house and declaring, “This place is a sty.”

And then there’s another participant, an entrepreneur named Karen, who’s pretty interesting. According to the startingover.tv Web site, she wants to start a new career “making headboards that will not break during sex.”

This could get interesting.

Assistant Secretary McCheese? Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is urging President Bush to go way outside the box with his upcoming appointment for an assistant secretary of manufacturing at the Department of Commerce.

After hearing that Gregory Mankiw had suggested that a job at a fast-food joint might be considered a “manufacturing job,” Dingell fired off this suggestion to the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers to pass on to Bush for the Commerce post.

“He has over thirty years of administrative and media experience, has a remarkable record of working with diverse constituencies and is extraordinarily well qualified to understand this emerging manufacturing sector: the Hon. Mayor McCheese,” wrote Dingell.

Dingell then referred to the “world of opportunity” that awaits laid-off workers in “spatula operator, napkin restocking, and lunch tray removal” and other high-growth areas.

He also demanded answers to some burning questions about the new administration policy:

“Will federal student loans and Trade Adjustment Assistance grants be applied to tuition costs at Burger College?

“Will special sauce now be counted as a durable good?

“Do you want fries with that?”

Meanwhile, Democratic consultant Mike Fraioli is printing a campaign button touting, “From Boeing to Burger King” … “What the hell, they’re all the same.”

One Bush administration official laughed off the Democratic rhetoric and shot back: “We are aggressively working to super-size the American economy so that it will create new and better-paying jobs for those who want them.”

Friends Again? After beating each other senseless over judicial nominations and the probe of Judiciary Committee leaks, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) have finally reached at least a momentary detente.

Hatch and Leahy have come together to participate in an anti-piracy ad campaign that has previously featured the likes of Sheryl Crow and other recording artists urging consumers to only download music legally.

The ads, which will start running in Billboard magazine next week, feature the lawmakers standing in front of the Capitol and declaring:

“Here’s something Republicans and Democrats agree on: Stealing music over the Internet is wrong.”

The ranking member of the Judiciary panel noted that Hatch, who has a few albums of his own on the market, is one of his favorite recording artists.

“Emmylou Harris … Sheryl Crow … Steve Earle … The Grateful Dead … Orrin Hatch,” Leahy said of the Judiciary chairman. “They all sound better when they are downloaded legally.”

Bible Insurance. When he swore in ex-Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) as a director at the Export-Import Bank on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) joked that it was his first time taking charge of such a distinguished ceremony.

“Just to get it right I brought two Bibles,” he told the crowd, which included Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and former Ambassador Joe Wilson, among other Cleland pals.

Schumer’s Love Affair — With Seeing His Name in the Paper. It’s nice to know that the always-ready-with-a-sound-byte Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) didn’t forget his beloved media friends on that romantic holiday that just passed.

PoliticsNY.com uncovered a secret memorandum from Schumer to Phil Singer, the Senator’s spokesman, that of course was just a joke.

“Make sure that every television news director in New York state and Washington gets a ‘personalized’ Valentine’s Day greeting from me,” wrote Schumer, who is notorious for scheduling hyped-up press events on usually slow Sundays in order to get himself quoted in Monday’s paper.

“You know how much I love what they all do for us. I wish VD fell on a Sunday this year so I could hand deliver a few greetings before our regularly scheduled press conference.”

Singer was then urged to take care of the gift purchasing for Iris Weinshall, the Senator’s wife. “Also, don’t forget to pick up some flowers for Iris and have someone schlep them over to Brooklyn. I’ll never hear the end of it if I don’t do something nice for her this year.”

Then there was the fake valentine from Staten Island Borough President Jimmy Molinaro to former borough chief and ex-Rep. Guy Molinari (R-N.Y.) that poked some fun at Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.):

“Since it’s [expletive deleted] Valentine’s Day, it’s time for us to show some [expletive deleted] ‘love’ to that [expletive deleted] ingrate Fossella — can you believe that [expletive deleted] empty [expletive deleted] suit actually thought about [expletive deleted] running against [expletive deleted] moneybags Bloomberg” — well, you get the idea.

Johnson’s Positive Prognosis. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) announced Wednesday that he has prostate cancer and will have the gland surgically removed next week.

A Johnson aide circulated an e-mail Wednesday stressing that the 57-year-old lawmaker should be doing fine within weeks: “All initial indications are that he will be fine and have a healthy and quick recovery.”

Johnson released an official statement saying he’s feeling upbeat and is appreciative of support from his family, especially wife Barbara, who is a breast cancer survivor.

“She remains my greatest role model and strongest supporter,” Johnson said.

A Star in His Own Right. Lauren Bacall once breezed into the office of then-Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) to do some lobbying and was greeted mostly by staffers who were a little too timid to say much to the Hollywood legend.

But suddenly one male staffer came rushing up to the screen siren, kissed her and simply yelled, “Betty!” without even revealing his identify.

A still-flustered Bacall later emerged from her meeting with Rudman to declare, “By the way, who is that wild man? I have to get his name.”

It was Henry Wrona, Rudman’s longtime office manager, who was a legend in his own right during 36 years in the Senate. He retired in 1992 and died of sepsis last week at the age of 81.

“He literally was a father figure to everyone — not just interns,” Rudman recalled to HOH.

“He was just a throwback to another generation of people who really cared about the people he worked with. He just worshiped the Senate, and the people who worked there.”

Just about every Saturday night during his tenure for five different Senators, Wrona would throw a dinner party in his Capitol Hill home for interns and young staffers.

“He knew they didn’t have a lot of money, and they were away from home, so he gave them a home-cooked meal,” noted Bob Stevenson, Rudman’s former spokesman who now plays the same role for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

Those youngsters at the dinner table have grown into major jobs in business and politics all across the country, and many of them are flying into D.C. on Friday for a special memorial service that is being held at 4 p.m. in the Mansfield Room of the Capitol.

“He had a major effect on their lives,” noted Rudman. “He was a Mr. Chips kind of guy.”