Vol. 2, Issue 33, September 28, 2004
Kitty Kelley Book Alleges Laura Bush Heir to Mustard Empire
After months of taking Democratic candidate John Kerry to task for exploiting his wife's connections to the Heinz ketchup fortune, the Bush campaign has found itself reeling from the relevation that First Lady Laura Bush is herself a condiment heiress.
The information was unearthed in Kitty Kelley's bestselling biography, The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, which has been the subject of much Republican scorn since its release. However, while some of the book's allegations, such as the President's reported cocaine use at Camp David, are difficult to verify, the connections between Laura Bush and the French's Foodservice company have been independently confirmed.
"The uncovering of these convoluted corporate ties which the Bush family has worked so hard to hide is a pretty satisfying coup," said Mary Beth Cahill, Kerry's campaign manager. "We were kind of hoping Kelley would dig up a link to a Mexican drug cartel or something, but this is almost as good."
Laura Bush's maiden name is Welch; apparently, she is the sole surviving heir to the Welch's grape company. Welch's, originally a manufacturing and marketing arm of the National Grape Cooperative Association, Inc., was quietly acquired by French's Foodservice, the nation's leading mustard company, via a holding company in 1975. George married Laura just two years later, in 1977.
"It is absolutely no coincidence that George W. began his own oil company [Arbusto Energy] at the same time as he married into the French's fortune," says Kelley in her book. "It is strange that George should criticize John Kerry for using the Heinz fortune to jumpstart his career when he did the same thing with the French's/Welch fortune, and with much less success." Arbusto Energy failed, along with its successor company Spectrum 7, although Bush obtained handsome payments in each case.
In a press conference on Monday, the Bush campaign strenuously denied any parallels between Kerry's exploitation of a ketchup heiress and Bush's exploitation of a mustard heiress, with senior Bush strategist Matthew Dowd keeping a remarkably straight face throughout the proceedings.
"The notion that George Bush was seeking to better his station in life through this marriage is ludicrous," said Dowd defensively. "Anyway, you need to remember that French's is a regular-guy mustard. It's not like George married into the Grey Poupon dynasty - now those are snooty people."
News of the hidden connection has spurred production of a new "JK" mustard brand, a Democratic counterpart to the "W" brand ketchup rolled out earlier this year by Republicans for consumers who didn't want to support the Heinz family.
The president himself, when asked about the condiment controversy, just shook his head sadly.
"I've always been on record as saying I don't think kids should be getting condiments in schools," said the president. "We should be teaching abstinence instead."