Jewish World Review May 19, 2003 / 17 Iyar, 5763

Lloyd Grove

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Consumer Reports

Close, but no cigar; Romeo & Juliet with a happy ending?; Geraldo to help Heebs? | WASHINGTON House Majority Leader Tom "The Hammer" DeLay is a tobacco-chewing, meat-eating Texas Republican who likes to drink red wine and smoke cigars. During a recent dinner with about 30 political supporters at a downtown Washington steak house, DeLay walked out on his guests before the cheesecake course when the manager told him he could eat and drink but not puff.

Because Ruth's Chris Steak House leases space in a building owned by the Smithsonian Institution, a quasi-federal agency, the rules forbid smoking. But after the main course, DeLay went into "hammer" mode, trying to compel manager Tom Khandker to flout the regs and lift the ban. We hear the conversation went something like this:

Khandker: "I'm sorry, sir, but this is a federal building, and it's against the law of the federal government."

DeLay: "I am the federal government."

The thwarted leader then departed. DeLay's spokesman Stuart Roy told us that what his boss really said was, "I'm with the federal government." Actually, if French weren't a forbidden language among House Republicans these days, DeLay could have announced, like his snuff-loving soulmate Louis XIV: "L'etat c'est moi."


Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt is picking up some Republican support -- and a new son-in-law.

Construction company co-owner Neil Greenberg, a 35-year-old divorced father of two, is engaged to the Missouri congressman's 25-year-old daughter, Kate Gephardt. She's a pre-school teacher at a Montessori school in Bethesda, Md., where Greenberg's 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter have been students.

"I'm still a Republican, but I believe Dick Gephardt is the best man for the job" of president, said GOP loyalist Greenberg, who in recent years has written $1,000 checks to the campaigns of Republicans George W. Bush, Connie Morella, Rick Lazio and Robert Ehrlich.

Kate Gephardt confided that Neil proposed in early May after a whirlwind, two-month romance, and now they're living together. "It's a beautiful ring," she told us. "We're planning a wedding next summer. It will be a small wedding." She added that Greenberg will roll up his sleeves and help her dad raise money.


A soft-spoken former White House aide and New York Times reporter, Barbara Gamarekian is the last woman we'd expect to spark a presidential sex scandal. This week Gamarekian sounded equally surprised that that's exactly what she has done.

The story of Mimi, a barely qualified 19-year-old press office clerk who had a sexual dalliance with President John F. Kennedy, was recounted in a just-unsealed portion of Gamarekian's 1964 oral history for Kennedy's presidential library. On Sunday, historian Robert Dallek, the author of a new book on the assassinated president, revealed Mimi's existence on "Dateline NBC." On Monday, the New York Daily News blared on its front page: "JFK HAD A MONICA." On Thursday, the paper identified her as Marion (Mimi) Fahnestock, a 60-year-old grandmother of four who lives on Manhattan's Upper East Side and works as an administrator at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.

"I really was a little naive to think that this wouldn't create some sort of firestorm," said Gamarekian, who worked for White House press secretary Pierre Salinger. "I don't particularly enjoy it. I came home on Monday from chemotherapy" -- for a rare form of ovarian cancer -- "and I found seven or eight calls on my machine, people from 'Inside This' and 'Inside That' wanting me to come on television. I didn't actually return the calls. And then my neighbors started getting calls, and then the young woman who lives in my basement started getting calls, and finally my ex-husband called to say that he'd been getting calls and did I mind if he gave them my number?"


-- Mazel tov to 59-year-old Fox News star Geraldo Rivera -- who will wed his 28-year-old girlfriend, Erica Levy, at New York's historic Central Synagogue on Aug. 10. "You can't be my age and getting married and not be an optimist," said four-time loser Rivera, the son of a Jewish mother and Puerto Rican father. He added that Bill and Hillary Clinton, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a top Palestinian official, the foreign minister of Afghanistan and various U.S. military commanders from Iraq have been invited to the Reform Jewish ceremony and the reception at the posh Four Seasons restaurant. "I'm making a conscious decision to take this whole Judaism thing seriously," Rivera told us. "I think the Jews need me right now."

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05/05/03: So Bill Gates and Tom Brokaw walk into a coffee bar . . .; hotel hell; more

© 2003, Creators Syndicate