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ALL FOR A CAUSE: “That’s the biggest check we’ve ever received,” said Greg Mortenson, thanking Chevron chief executive officer John Watson for donating $350,000 to the Kuwait America Foundation annual fund-raiser hosted by Rima Al-Sabah, wife of the ambassador of Kuwait. Mortenson, founder of the nonprofit Central Asia Institute, has opened more than 130 schools emphasizing girls’ education in remote mountain villages of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. In all, Al-Sabah’s gala fund-raiser, heavy on petroleum executive donations, raised $2.3 million for the Montana-based philanthropist. Al-Sabah, wearing a black Emilio Pucci cocktail dress, credited her absent guest, Teresa Heinz, with telling her about Mortenson. But it was Mortenson’s best-selling book, “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace,”’ that gave Al-Sabah the idea for what to put in her 168 Hermès goodie bags. Each guest got a Hermès cup and saucer, decorated with a bright red Moorish ironwork design, along with a copy of Mortenson’s new book, “Stones Into Schools.”
Leading the cast of Obama White House darlings was White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and his wife, Amy Rule, who snagged the top protocol seat, to the right of Kuwait Ambassador Salem Al-Sabah. Outgoing White House social secretary Desirée Rogers, in Isabel Toledo, made sure to dodge the spotlight. “I’m not leaving until the end of April. I want to get to see people because I never had any time before,” Rogers quietly told friends.
Following his own rules of protocol, actor Michael Douglas, who flew back to New York with petroleum pals Susan and John Hess, took care to avoid walking off with more than a Hermès goodie bag. “I have to check out my pockets because otherwise I always end up with a bunch of cocktail napkins,” said Douglas, who makes a habit of stuffing them into his pocket after each hors d’oeuvre.