Punch Lines

Let the Olympics jokes begin: The Olympic Games begin tonight when the torch arrives in Atlanta. Says Argus Hamilton, “The identity of the torchbearer is a secret. Southerners don’t care who it is, as long as he’s not wearing a Yankee uniform this time.”

* “Athletes from around the globe have sweated, toiled and suffered for years to get to Atlanta. That Interstate 75 is no picnic.” (Alan Ray)

* “Atlanta’s a patriotic city--the land of the free and the home of the Braves.” (Alex Pearlstein)

* “Yep, tonight’s the big night: Several hours of commercials interrupted by the lighting of the flame.” (Steve Tatham)


* “Coca-Cola will air 100 different commercials during the games. Should be a tight contest, those 100 commercials versus our one little TV remote.” (Cutler Daily Scoop)

* “Three more athletes tested positive for illegal drugs at the Olympics . . . and were immediately assigned to the White House.” (Hy Faber)


In the news: The Lakers have landed Orlando Magic star Shaquille O’Neal for only about $120 million:


* “He’ll be able to change his nickname from ‘Shaq’ to ‘Mansion.’ ” (Jimmy O’Connell)

* “In the deal, Shaq is guaranteed a spot in the cast of ‘Friends.’ ” (Paul Ecker)

* “There are three major sports, and Deion Sanders just realized he picked the wrong two.” (Hamilton)

* “The Lakers are dramatically raising their ticket prices. When Jack Nicholson got his new bill, he couldn’t believe his sunglasses.” (Gary Easley)

Bob Dole had lunch this week with his former GOP rivals. Says Faber, “It was the first time Phil Gramm and Lamar Alexander had seen each other since they used to work as Bartles & Jaymes.”

San Diego is pumping up for next month’s GOP convention. Bartenders have invented a new drink, says Hamilton. “It’s called Dole on the Rocks--Old Grand Dad with bitters.”

In Singapore, a man in cowboy gear was arrested for riding a horse on a freeway. Says Paul Steinberg, “He was trying to convince police that the horse entitled him to be in the carpool lane.”

A Girl Scouts survey found that 65% of high school students would cheat on important exams. Says Paul Ryan, “Not surprisingly, 90% of that group said they’d like to run for office someday.”


Robert Downey Jr. was accused of trespassing after being found asleep in a neighbor’s home:

* “Man, how the tables have turned. Now successful actors are aspiring to become Katos.” (Pearlstein)

* “The bad news is, because of his second drug arrest he’s been dropped by his talent agency. The good news is, he automatically qualifies for a recording contract. Also, George Steinbrenner is interested.” (Patty and Marty)


Readers Mike and Betty Wisener of Brea say that when Grandpa Mike was playing baseball with grandson Luke, 3, he taught him to chatter: “Hey, batter batter!” Luke, who had the glove, had his own technique:

“Hey, glover glover!”