Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

Posted June 24, 2005 at 6:33pm

The founder of the South Beach Diet probably thought his son would stay healthy and be well taken care of when he sent the lad to intern in Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s (R-Fla.) Washington office.

This might not have been what he had in mind: The Congresswoman has been a bit of a bad influence on Evan Agatston, the heir to the South Beach Diet throne.[IMGCAP(1)]

Just last week, in what was surely intended to be a kind gesture to her unpaid interns, Ros-Lehtinen fed the hungry brood a lunch of greasy barbeque, sweet baked beans, loads of bread and — gasp! — brownies for dessert. We pray that Mr. South Beach Diet, Arthur Agatston, never finds out. He may stop contributing money to Ros-Lehtinen. (He gave her $4,000 in the last election cycle.)

Ros-Lehtinen said one of her star intern’s “responsibilities is to not tell his dad that we’re cheating on his diet.” Evan had just given the Congresswoman his dad’s diet book and cookbook and she had promised to start pronto. “Well, there’s always mañana,” Ros-Lehtinen sighed, lamenting, “I need to get serious about my weight. I’ve not been this heavy — for me — since I was pregnant. I’m very sure I’m not pregnant now. My kids are 19 and 17.”

The son of Mr. South Beach told HOH he didn’t think his dad would get too upset about the high-carb, fatty lunch Ros-Lehtinen fed him.

“It’s only one time. As long as it’s not a consistent thing,” said Evan, a 20-year-old student at Union College in Schenectady, NY.

Just as with his diet, the elder Agatston, a constituent of Ros-Lehtinen, treats politics with similar moderation. While most of his contributions have gone to Republicans, including Ros-Lehtinen, President Bush and the National Republican Congressional Committee ($5,000 in this year), he has given money to Democrats Joe Lieberman, the junior Senator from Connecticut, and Bob Graham, the former Senator from Florida.

DeLay of Game. The big star of Thursday night’s 44th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game wasn’t on the field or in the dugout. No, without question, the big celebrity of the night was House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

Of the nearly 6,000 people at the game, no one got the attention DeLay did. As if they were queuing up to meet a president, a pope or even a rock star, dozens and dozens … and dozens … of young Republican staffers lined up for more than an hour during the game waiting to meet the Texan, who sat above the GOP dugout on the first base side of RFK Stadium.

Some just shook hands with the Majority Leader; others posed for pictures, some got autographs. The line stretched for more than 20 rows at times. The only down moment for DeLay was when his face appeared on the stadium Jumbotron and Democratic staffers booed him.

The fanaticism — such a frenzy you’d have thought it was staged — went on so long that one of DeLay’s rivals, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), walked over from the Democratic side of the stadium to give DeLay some good-natured ribbing about the non-stop grip-and-grinning. Hoyer chuckled and yukked it up to DeLay’s face. But once out of earshot, as he walked away, he took a gentle swipe at the embattled GOP fundraiser-in-chief.

“I couldn’t afford a photo,” Hoyer joked, shouting over to nearby Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Though DeLay soaked up the limelight, he never got up on top of the dugout and danced, which is how House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and a crew of Democratic women tried to rally their fans between one of the innings. Looks like hip swiveling didn’t work for the team or the fans. (Republicans trounced Democrats for the third straight time and claimed the coveted Roll Call trophy.)

She Can Cook, Too! Freshman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is turning out to be a real Renaissance woman. Not only is she a new rising star in the House Democratic Caucus, a new media darling, especially among some guys, including a U.S. News and World Report magazine scribe who says the Florida Democrat is “hot,” the Congresswoman has talents in the kitchen, too.

She won second place last week in Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s (D-Conn.) fourth annual Cook-Off at Tosca. The prized dish: homestyle chili, which Wasserman Schultz cooked at her home in Florida and carefully carried in a cooler on the plane on her way back to Washington.

Despite her impressive second-place finish, the Congresswoman humbly downplayed her cooking abilities, and even gave her husband credit for the chili.

“When Rosa first asked me to participate in the cook-off, I was concerned because the Democratic Caucus is already small enough, without me killing off 10 Democrats,” Wasserman Shultz quipped. “But fortunately, I had the tried-and-true chili recipe of my father-in-law, enhanced by my husband.”

They made a Father’s Day family project out of cooking the chili and then she hauled it back to Washington on the plane, along with her 6-year-old daughter.

“It weighed more than my daughter!” the Congresswoman said.

Wasserman Schultz’s chili scored second behind children’s advocate Chris Downey’s mushroom pasta. Winning third and fourth places, respectively, were sister Democratic Reps. Linda and Loretta Sanchez of California, little sister Linda for her taquitos with guacamole and Loretta for her watermelon, mint and feta salad.

Paul Kane and Jared Allen contributed to this report.