By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Need more proof that the money meltdown is making people nuts? Consider lobbyist Edwina Rogers, who's catching hell for wrapping presents in $1 bills.
"I'm getting death threats," Rogers told us yesterday. "I'm just a little girl from Alabama, so the whole image is wrong."
The Republican lawyer was filmed for the pilot of "PowerHouse," a peek inside homes of local VIPs -- hers being an 18,000-square-foot McLean mansion. Rogers shared one of her trademarks: Covering small gifts with sheets of uncut U.S. currency. A clip was posted on Hotline last month, then made its way onto blogs and the "Colbert Report" Monday as a symbol of K Street's wretched excess.
That's so not what she meant. The health policy lobbyist (previous gigs in the Senate and White House) started wrapping inexpensive presidential cuff links in dollars 10 years ago -- as small, under-$20 thank-you's that would comply with ethics rules. "I was trying to be perfectly legal, but be unique and interesting," she said. "I only use it on tiny gifts." Friends love it, especially foreigners.
Rogers was approached last spring by Mario Correa, a former lobbyist who's producing "PowerHouse" -- think MTV's "Cribs" for policy wonks. He was fascinated by the huge walk-in closet (it holds shoes, presents and gift wrap) and asked for a how-to on money wrapping. Correa showed National Journal the segment, which quickly migrated over the Web.
And yes -- you too can wrap your presents in cash. The "Buy Paper Money" link on the Treasury Department's Web site offers uncut sheets of 32 bills (for $55); 16 $1 bills (for $33) -- or if you're feeling flush, sheets of $2, $5, $10, $20 and $50 bills.
But take note: While uncut currency is legal tender (you can cut around the bills), slicing them in half (as Rogers does in the clip) is technically considered defacement.SURREAL ESTATE
Former owners: George and Laura Bush
Details: It's the Midland, Tex., house where the first couple got their start in married life back in 1977 and where they lived until 1985. Current owner Michael Kline donated it in 2002 to the Presidential Museum in Odessa, Tex. (a nonprofit that celebrates every POTUS, not just Bushes). But then there was a falling-out: Kline's agent says that when the group failed to use it for museum purposes, he demanded it back; museum officials say they simply were unable to meet Kline's stipulations, and won't elaborate. Anyway, he has it back now and is looking to sell. Three bedrooms, two baths, patio, tile floor, tall ceilings, 2,406 square feet. "It looks exactly as it did" in the Bushes' day, agent Ruth Young says -- the kitchen, the drapes, etc.THIS JUST IN . . .
· Ryan O'Neal, 67, and his son Redmond, 23, were arrested at the actor's Malibu home yesterday after police found them with methamphetamine, the Associated Press reports. The search came during a routine check to make sure the son (mom is Farrah Fawcett) wasn't violating his probation for drug-possession charges. Half sister Tatum pleaded guilty this summer to disorderly conduct in connection with a NYC coke bust.
· A month after hitting Vanity Fair's best-dressed list, Michelle Obama got the same honors from People, along with the likes of Charlize, Gwyneth, Rihanna, rocker Fergie, etc.HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?
· Denzel Washington standing in front of a giant photo of himself as a second-grader, outside the Hyatt on Capitol Hill yesterday, part of a push to recruit volunteers for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Now that's a good-looking second-grader.