Thursday, June 24, 2004

Buy asparagus

We first became familiar with health industries mogul Terry Lierman five years ago when he forked over a generous $25,000 open-ended loan to Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat.

The only trouble was Mr. Lierman, at the time, was lobbying Congress on behalf of pharmaceutical giant Schering-Plough Corp., which wished to retain its monopoly on the popular allergy drug Claritin.

Mr. Moran, to continue our story, was co-sponsor of a bill supporting Schering-Plough, even writing a letter to fellow Democrats enlisting their support.

When 2000 came around, Mr. Lierman was himself a candidate for Congress, narrowly losing his bid to unseat then-Rep. Constance A. Morella, Maryland Republican.

Fast forward to last August, when friends arranged for the 55-year-old Mr. Lierman to meet with an enthusiastic Democratic presidential aspirant — former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean — at Washington’s Union Station. Soon, Mr. Lierman became the Dean campaign’s national finance co-chairman, helping to raise an impressive $40 million in only a few months’ time.

But that was then, and this is now, and in recent days, Mr. Lierman was spotted by Inside the Beltway aboard a train bound for Machu Picchu in Peru.

“I am here looking for what to do next,” he was overheard telling one passenger.

At which point he turned to a Peruvian and asked how one should invest in Peru?

“How much money?” asked the Peruvian.

“You name the amount,” said Mr. Lierman.

“Asparagus,” the Peruvian said.

“Asparagus?” said the astonished Mr. Lierman. “That’s a crop!”

Pass the Kerry

Even foreign leaders visiting Washington know the health benefits of ketchup in the presidential campaign of Democratic Sen. John Kerry, husband of Teresa Heinz Kerry, heiress to the family’s $500 million tomato fortune.

Handing a bottle of Heinz ketchup to a European colleague at the Old Ebbitt Grill near the White House this week, a foreign leader, who won’t let us identify him, remarked: “Here, have some of Kerry’s finest.”

Nutty Democrats

En route to a campaign rally in Springfield, Mo., this week, Vice President Dick Cheney had his motorcade pull over at one of Johnny Morris’ Bass Pro Shops.

“We had a little extra time on our hands, and I couldn’t go by Bass Pro Shops without stopping,” the vice president explained. “I’m on their [mailing] list, and they’ve got a lot of my money.”

As Mr. Cheney was browsing through the fishing tackle, a young man came up and asked to have his picture taken with him.

“Sure,” Mr. Cheney replied.

After the photo was snapped, the man said: “My dad is a Democrat, and this picture is going to drive him nuts.”

“That’s nothing,” Mr. Cheney replied. “Wait till you see what we’re going to do to John Kerry on November 2.”

Reagan dollar

Much reaction to our item on Democrats demanding that the images of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy not be removed from either the dime or half-dollar, which has been proposed as a tribute to the late President Ronald Reagan.

Democrats for America’s Future is voicing concern to U.S. Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore and four key senators — Republicans Sam Brownback of Kansas, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Ted Stevens of Alaska — who were appointed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, to report back by mid-July on specific recommendations for a Reagan commemoration.

Calling Roosevelt and Kennedy two of history’s most revered Democrats, DAF Executive Director Jennifer Petty said it’s simply not necessary “to trash the memories of FDR and JFK to honor Ronald Reagan.”

Washington lawyer Chris Horner says Miss Petty’s remark “implies that in putting JFK and FDR on coins within a year of their death, the Democrats also ‘trashed the names’ of Benjamin Franklin — half dollar, 1964 — and ‘the representation of Liberty,’ which was on the dime until 1946. I wonder if they said so at the time?”

Says Roger Johnson of Kensington: “Democrats are probably right that the likenesses of Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy should be retained on the dime and half-dollar, respectively. Perhaps if Ronald Reagan’s image were put on a $1 coin, people might actually start to use it.”

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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