In the news: Comedy writer Bob Mills, on the "contract with America": "It sounded so great last November. But now Republicans are finding it harder to get out of than the Columbia House record club."

Jay Leno, on New York's death penalty: "Up until now, this was something taken care of by the private sector. . . . Now you've got to fill out forms."

Adds comedy writer Paul Ryan: "Death penalty backers say criminals will now think twice. This is a big step forward. Most New York mobsters have a hard time even thinking once."

Satirist Mark Russell, on the U.S. visit of Irish Republican Army leader Gerry Adams: "Time once again for our annual patronizing of Ireland, the bewitching country where IRA doesn't exactly refer to a pension plan."

Adds comic Argus Hamilton: "The Newt invited Adams to attend Congress' St. Patrick's Day luncheon. It's understandable. You know how bomb throwers like to talk shop."

Comedy writer Gail Walpert, on actress and over-40 model Isabella Rossellini appearing in magazine ads to promote age-defying skin care products: "She looks great. Yesterday, I bought what she's advertising: a soft-focus lens for my camera."

Premiere Morning Sickness, on repeated shutdowns of Disneyland's new Indiana Jones ride: "Disney is enforcing strict ride requirements. You must be over four feet tall, not pregnant and wearing a tool belt."

Comedy writer Tony Peyser, on the hiring of top ad execs to develop a new ad campaign to polish L.A.'s image: "One rejected slogan was L.A. -- It's not just for gangs anymore ."


Error Jordan: Michael quits baseball:

* "For the last year, there's only one thing he's missed more than basketball--the baseball." (Alan Ray)

* "Insiders say the main reason for Jordan's return to basketball is simple: He can't skate." (Kevin S. Healey)

* "Pleading for Jordan's return, the Bulls owner sent a three-word telegram: There's no batting. " (Mills)


Reader file: Dennis Chapman of Pacific Palisades, on mudslides along Pacific Coast Highway: "I understand that PCH will now stand for Please Close the Highway ."

Jerry Perisho of Whittier, on "new math" being taught next fall in California schools: "Johnny sold his dad's CD player for $25. The Megadeath tattoo and nipple piercing cost $45. How much more does Johnny need?"

Stan Kaplan of Garden Grove, on the new mystery witness for O.J.'s defense: "The lawyers will reveal the person's identity at the conclusion of auditions."

Leonard R. Wines of Los Angeles, on the title of Kato Kaelin's upcoming book: "It's called, 'I Wish I Had Something to Tell You.' "


After daughter Hayley, 3, told Peggy Marx of Santa Monica how her pre-school class prayed before lunch, Mom asked if she knew what Amen meant.

"It means," Hayley replied, "open your lunch box."

* SEND US A LINE: Got a joke or funny story? Send it to Laugh Lines, a syndicated feature, by fax, (213) 237-0732, or mail, Life & Style, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, Calif. 90053.

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