LAUGH LINES : Punch Lines

In the news: Credit-card delinquencies are at an all-time high. Part of the problem, says Jenny Church, is that "Steve Forbes refuses to pay his balance due, insisting that he spent $25 million for a nomination but never received it."

The FAA has approved free flight, a policy that will let pilots determine their own flight paths and speed. Says Brad Halpern, "Airlines feel it will save them money on fuel but may cost more when pilots swoop through drive-throughs to get better food."

Research suggests some artificial flavorings found in baked goods may actually be good for the body. Says Church, "That still doesn't make the Pillsbury Dough Boy a stud muffin."

By 2006, the fiftysomething population will jump by 50%, which experts say will change the way we view age 50. Yeah, says Johnny Robish, "Like never trust anybody with over 30 cosmetic surgeries."

F. Lee Bailey is in the slammer and Melvin Belli has declared bankruptcy. Asks Bob Mills, "Isn't this enough evidence to support a constitutional amendment declaring that there is a God?"

* Adds Alan Ray, "A lawyer's presence in the cellblock always has an impact on the other convicts. So far, 13 of Bailey's fellow inmates have requested death row."

Chris Darden admitted on TV that he and Marcia Clark had an affair during the O.J. trial. Wonders Argus Hamilton, "Why shouldn't lawyers be attracted to each other? They repel everyone else."

In Oklahoma, a driver in a tractor-trailer led police on an 80-mile chase, smashing into cars along the way. According to Premiere Morning Sickness, one police officer explained, "We were just trying to get close enough to read the 'How Am I Driving?' number on his bumper."

There was one bright spot for UCLA's basketball team after its first-round loss in the NCAA tournament, says Keith Scheuer. "Immediately after the game, Jack Kemp picked the Bruins to win the national championship."

The NBA and the Denver Nuggets player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf worked out a compromise. He'll stand up during the national anthem, but recite a prayer:

* "He can give thanks that Roseanne isn't singing it." (Cutler Daily Scoop)

* "Maybe he can pray that we get a better song." (Gary Easley)

* "There are obviously religious differences. He worships Allah; the NBA worships money." (Ray)

Arnold Schwarzenegger will play the villain in the next Batman movie. Says Ray, "He'll have a stunt double for the more difficult parts: In several scenes he has dialogue."

*

Reader Merva McLean of Los Angeles says her grandson David attended his first formal wedding at age 5. As the bride began to walk down the aisle on the arm of her father, David turned to his mother and whispered:

"Is she going to marry that old guy?"

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