Jan. 30, 2002

Billionaire Baby to the Rescue

By Roy Rivenburg
It’s the Kira, Stupid: As more and more companies go belly-up -- Enron, Kmart, etc. -- it’s becoming clear that the only thing keeping the U.S. economy afloat is a 3-year-old girl from Los Angeles. Her name is Kira Kerkorian and every month she spends more than the gross national product of India, Iceland and France combined.

On her second birthday, for instance, she ran up a $70,000 tab hosting a party at the Hotel Bel-Air, according to news reports. And in court papers filed by her mother, who is feuding over child support payments with billionaire ex-husband Kirk Kerkorian, an 84-year-old casino tycoon, Kira’s list of monthly expenses includes $144,000 for travel, $10,200 for meals, $14,000 for parties, $7,000 for charitable donations, $2,500 for movies and $1,000 for toys and books. Kira also spends $436 per month to feed her pet rabbit and other animals.

‘‘What does that bunny eat, beluga?’’ asked Katie Couric in an interview with Kerkorian lawyers on the ‘‘Today’’ show.

As if there were something wrong with a rabbit eating caviar. Wake up, Katie. The economy needs Kira’s spending. If anything, the $320,000 a month requested by her mom is too little. It leaves out such common childhood expenses as fingerpainting lessons from artist David Hockney, ponies and hostile takeovers of Fortune 500 companies.

Quote of the Week: Columnist David Allen of the Inland Valley (Calif.) Daily Bulletin, commenting on the Enron scandal: ‘‘Concerned Americans want to know: How could such an arrogant, monolithic company crash to earth so fast? And is there a chance we can make it happen to Microsoft too?’’

A Chocolate Mess: Voters face some tough choices in the 2002 elections. Democrats vs. Republicans -- and whether to add purple, pink or aqua to the color lineup of M&Ms candy. For only the second time in history, the public is being asked to pick a new M&M color. And the contest is already turning into a slugfest. For example, Aqua is airing commercials accusing Pink and Purple of melting in your hands, not in your mouth.

In another twist, Ralph Nader is campaigning to become the new M&M color as a write-in candidate. ‘‘There’s no real difference between the three official candidates,’’ Nader insisted. ‘‘They’re all beholden to the Mars candy corporation. If you want reform, elect me.’’

Polls show Nader trailing badly, partly because he doesn’t have a creamy milk chocolate center. He also has been excluded from the televised M&M candidate debates.

In the last M&M election, in 1995, Americans chose blue to replace tan, which had retired after 46 years in office. The current vote begins March 6 in 78 countries, with ballots in 15 different languages. The winner will be sworn in at a June ceremony in New York City.

In other chocolate news, the Anatomical Chart Co. is selling anatomically correct one-pound chocolate hearts for Valentine’s Day. The company also offers chocolate brains and ears. But still no anatomically correct St. Patrick’s Day chocolate livers.

A Starter Car for Kira: Bentley Motors is previewing the 2002 edition of its Arnage sedan, which will retail for about $300,000. The car features a leather interior made from the hides of 15 Scandinavian cows, specially bred on barbed-wire-free farms to prevent nicks. (Presumably, the cows also aren’t allowed to shave with anything but electric razors.)

Despite the hefty sticker price, a Bentley spokeswoman admitted the car’s cup holders are useless. Bentley doesn’t believe in them, she said. Hey, for $300,000, the car should come with its own butler to hold your beverage.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘New Miracle Fabric Is Made From Underarm Hair!’’ (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Time magazine, PR Newswire, Internetwire.com, Jeannine Stein.

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
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