“Ho, ho, that’s rich!” For those who remember slang, that was a hot line a while back — a retort that what was said was unbelievable or simply stupid. It was a put-down.

The “rich” everyone seems to be talking about now are Marc Rich and his lovely ex-wife, Denise. Every wife, ex- or not, is “lovely” — especially when she is glamorous, glitzy, blond-streaked, stacked like a brick-outhouse and, of course, rich. There’s that word again.

In this case, rich has several meanings. First, the people bear that name. Denise Rich, the lovely ex-wife, has the moniker. So does her husband — or rather ex-husband — Marc Rich, who has been living the life of Riley in Europe because of some annoying little complications that caused him to decide to renounce his United States citizenship. So the Rich family is just that, rich. Filthy rich.

Of course, when Marc left town, he didn’t give up his wealth or his connections or his inclination to marry and live the good life. He has another wife — young, blond and pretty. She’s “Mrs. Rich” too, but apparently the first Mrs. Rich is still carrying the torch — or something.

Why else would it appear that Denise has been generously donating her time and efforts, and apparently lots of money, to help Marc, her ex? Ah yes, divorce among the rich is so civilized.

Well, we can’t say for certain she’s still hot for Marc, but given the usual circumstances of a divorce, civility after a divorce is not always common. Even among the upper class, where there seems to be a greater tolerance for remaining on good terms with the ex, the relationship between the ex’s is fascinating.

Mr. Rich is, or at least was until Bill Clinton left office (though not the headlines) and granted him a pardon, in deep, deep trouble with the law, particularly the IRS. No matter who you are, troubles with the law can usually be dealt with; trouble with the IRS in this case, it appears, warranted presidential attention.

So important was the case of Marc Rich that Bill Clinton just took care of things on his own. No need to get the Justice Department involved; it gets so messy that way. Just do it. After all, he had the power, and Bill does relish wielding presidential power. He had just gotten the stride down pat and darn-it-all, he was termed out. But he worked right to the final moment. No sense wasting a moment. So, on his own, good old Bill decreed the rich Mr. Rich pardoned. That’s it. All done!

And what of Mrs. Rich? No. 1, not No. 2. Well, that engenders some interesting speculation. The first question, for me at least, is not what did she do, or with whom, or even with whose money — although all of those are important considerations especially when you’re talking about the law.

No, the first question for me is why is Denise Rich so conciliatory concerning her husband. Oops, I mean ex-husband.

Now really. When you’re in that league of bucks, a divorce is a divorce. The legal talent that both parties can afford to work through the muck is usually skilled enough to crack into the husband’s assets to make certain that the little woman will not have to sully her loveliness with worry lines about balancing the books.

I have no doubt, Denise was left very comfortable after Marc moved out. No doubt, even when he moved across the pond, she was still in good shape — financially, I mean.

So my question remains why is she so generous to the Democrats, and Bill Clinton in particular? However, noting her appearance and cleavage, it is clear that she is of a type we’ve seen before. They have not always been blonde, nor of a certain age, nor of the same social status but there is one constant — all of the women Bill has been attracted to outside his marriage are, shall we say, built.

Now one might look at Denise and consider her a lure. No doubt Bill would be tempted. He has a history of giving in to temptation. Reports are that the rich and generous Mrs. Rich visited the White House frequently, very frequently; in fact, about every other day for a year. Would that some intrepid reporter would crosscheck the logs of her visits with the whereabouts of Bill and Hill. Could prove interesting.

But more interesting from a legal point of view is whether there was a quid pro quo. Will there be a payoff for the pardon? It appears, from what we already know, that the Democrats profited; so did the Clinton fund-raising for both Hill and Bill. It could be that Bill personally got some benefit from all of this. And we know that Marc got the pardon jackpot.

So the big unanswered question is what was in it for Denise?

Surely it had to be more than associating with the Clintons. I mean, rubbing elbows with power only goes so far. Maybe if Congress shows some cojones, it can find out what’s really going on. There has to be a gold pot at the end of this rainbow and somehow, I just don’t think that Denise Rich is the type to settle for an empty pot. I doubt she took the Fifth for nothing.

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