More From the Food Wars

Posted April 30, 2004 at 6:33pm

Everything is political in Washington these days. Even condiments. [IMGCAP(1)]

The latest entry in the political food category is “Bush Country Ketchup,” which was created for those who don’t want to buy Heinz ketchup or anything else linked to Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry (Mass.).

It’s official slogan: “Making Sure Kerry Doesn’t Ketchup to Dubya!” The label has a picture of a happy elephant with a large “W” on its side stomping Kerry.

The idea for the conservative catsup came from Patrick Spero and Christopher Cylke, the latter an aide for the House Judiciary Committee, where he serves as a legislative/executive assistant. The two former college roommates have put about $5,000 of their own money into the effort, and claim to have sold close to 300 bottles so far at $5.99 per pop.

Cylke, who got advice from the House ethics committee before moving forward with his plan, said he and Spero came up with the idea after Kerry triumphed in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary. Fearful that buying Heinz ketchup would benefit the controversial Teresa Heinz Kerry, her husband and liberals everywhere, they established a corporation in Pennsylvania to market the ketchup, which is produced by a San Francisco firm and then specially labeled for them. According to Cylke, they’ve even talked to the Capitol Hill Club, that well-known Republican enclave, about making it the official ketchup there.

Cylke, though, emphasized that he was not advocating an embargo of the H.J. Heinz Company, which last year sold 650 million bottles of ketchup.

“We offer an alternative product. We’re not calling for a boycott,” said Cylke.

The H.J. Heinz Co., of which Teresa Heinz Kerry now owns less than 4 percent, has been trying very hard not to get dragged into the presidential contest.

The company’s political action committee has actually given $5,000 to the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, and nothing to Kerry.

“Our ketchup is neither Democratic nor Republican. Our only leaning is toward hamburgers and hot dogs,” said the interestingly named Jack Kennedy, a spokesman for the company. “Heinz ketchup is an equal opportunity condiment.”

Stripes. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) got promotions from President Bush on Thursday. Real promotions.

Graham was promoted to the rank of colonel in the Air Force Reserves during an Oval Office ceremony with Bush, while Buyer was bumped up to colonel in the Army Reserves.

Graham is the only Senator currently in the reserves. He spent six and a half years on active duty as an Air Force lawyer, and was called up for active duty during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, although he remained in the United States throughout the conflict. Graham is currently assigned as a reserve judge to the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals.

Buyer is one of five Members in the reserves. Buyer, who served as a legal adviser in prisoner-of-war camps during the Gulf War, was actually called up to active duty in March 2003 during the run-up to the Iraq invasion. But Pentagon officials decided against sending him to the Middle East out of fears for his safety.

“I am truly humbled and honored to receive this promotion from the commander in chief of the United States of America,” Buyer said.

Another Guy Who Makes Me Look Bad to My Mom. In between running for office and running marathons, Democratic Congressional candidate Jamie Metzl has squeezed in time to publish his first novel.

“The Depths of the Sea,” is touted as a “thriller that both entertains and illuminates” on its book jacket and carries a front-cover blurb from former Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke. Holbrooke praised Metzl as a “writer of astonishing erudition and talent” and the book as a “tour de force.”

The book, according to Metzl, “deals with intersecting lives of people drawn to the Thai-Cambodian border following the invasion of Cambodia.” Not exactly a potboiler, but Metzl said he got the inspiration for it while serving as a United Nations human rights observer in Cambodia.

Metzl’s interest in the subject began during his studies at Oxford University where he received a doctorate in Southeast Asian history. He also graduated from Harvard Law School before serving a stint on Capitol Hill for Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.).

The novel, which was seven years in the making, is simply the latest expression of Metzl’s seemingly indefatigable energy. He has run in 20 marathons and completed his third Ironman triathlon — a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and then a marathon — last fall.

Metzl has also raised nearly $600,000 in his bid for the Kansas City-based seat being vacated by embattled Rep. Karen McCarthy (D). Metzl remains an underdog in the race as he must face well-known former Kansas City Mayor Emanuel Cleaver in the Aug. 3 Democratic primary.

Life After Politics. When Peter Freund left the re-election campaign of Rep. Jim Ryun (R-Kan.) and went to work for GOP candidate Kris Kobach recently, he apparently wasn’t too happy with his former boss.

In a surprising press release issued last week by the Kobach for Congress campaign, Freund let Ryun have it with both barrels. “Freund’s departure from the Ryun campaign comes at a pivotal time, as the Congressman appears to have a real re-election fight on his hands against Democrat Nancy Boyda,” read the statement.

More Freund: “My decision to leave Congressman Ryun’s campaign is about more than getting another Republican elected to office; it is about fighting the good fight and electing a leader who will represent our traditional Kansas values across the board on issues such as fiscal restraint, abortion and gay marriage. In my opinion, Congressman Ryun has not fought strongly enough for these values in Congress — values which he has long claimed to support — and I can no longer remain in my position in his office. I am, however, confident that Kris Kobach will lead the fight on these issues in the 109th Congress and I am excited to join his campaign.”

Freund’s blast was followed later by another statement from Kobach for Congress campaign manager Todd Abrajano. Abrajano just wanted to assure everyone that Freund thinks Ryun is a terrific guy, but just said it badly in his previous statement.

“The Kobach for Congress campaign retracts the press release that was issued earlier today regarding Peter Freund,” said Abrajano. “Peter Freund’s sentiments in that release were expressed incorrectly. Peter Freund and the Kobach for Congress campaign regret any misperceptions that may have resulted from those comments.”

In fact, the misperception might have been that Freund was going to work for Kobach. He has now left the Kobach for Congress campaign. No word on what his next gig is going to be.

Let’s Look Into This. Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) has asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the decision by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., of Maryland from showing Friday’s edition of the ABC news show “Nightline.”

Nightline anchor Ted Koppel was scheduled Friday night to read the names, accompanied by photos, of the more than 700 U.S. military personnel who have died in Iraq since the invasion began last March 19.

Sinclair objected to Koppel’s move, calling it a ratings stunt, and ordered its eight ABC affiliates not to run the program. Sinclair charged that Koppel and Nightline were attempting to whip anti-war sentiment in the United States.

“Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show, the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq,” said Sinclair in a statement released by the company.

Dayton countered that Sinclair was engaged in censorship and was failing in its duty as a public broadcaster to provide its viewers with information on an issue of national importance.

“It is a shame that the American public will be prevented from witnessing a tribute to our soldiers, who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” wrote Dayton in a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell. “America’s airwaves are a public resource. Those who broadcast over those airwaves betray the public trust when they deny access to programming deemed inconsistent with their political perspective.”

Neither the FCC nor Sinclair were available for comment late Friday.

Chris Cillizza contributed to this report.