Punch lines

Gimme an X: The TV ratings system will be announced next week. Says Argus Hamilton, "Surveys show that Democrats object more to violence, while Republicans object more to sex. That explains why there are more Democrats than Republicans."

A new survey shows that sexual references on TV rose 65% in the past 10 years. Says Bob Mills, "Even more chilling: It showed that sitcom jokes requiring canned laughter rose a whopping 87%."


In the news: In his second term, President Clinton vowed to lead the nation from its "dynamic center":

* "And his center becomes more dynamic with every Big Mac." (Steve Tatham)

* "To sell the president on the plan, his advisors needed only two words: 'jelly filled.' " (Alex Pearlstein)

Clinton also said "the era of big government is over." Asks Paul Ecker, "Does that mean he and Newt Gingrich will be trying the Fen-Phen diet?"

A loose screw has been blamed for causing the hatch to jam aboard the space shuttle Columbia. Says Premiere Morning Sickness, "Oddly enough, that's the same thing that caused Ross Perot to think he had a shot at the White House."

O.J. Simpson's lawyers raised the possibility of a second assailant. Says Alan Ray, "They see two benefits from the argument. Not only could it clear their client, they'd probably get a call from Oliver Stone."

A study says Americans actually have more free time than ever. Says Alex Kaseberg, "That may have been true before computer solitaire, but it certainly isn't now."

A California priest allegedly stole church funds to join a country club. Parishioners knew something was up, says Ray. "When you take a vow of poverty, you're supposed to end with 'amen' not 'yeah, right.' "

A Pennsylvania couple was convicted of having sex inside a Denny's restaurant. Says Steve Voldseth, "I believe that's called the Grand Slam Thank You Ma'am Breakfast."

Sarah Ferguson, the duchess of York, shows up in Los Angeles and right away there's a royal squabble, says Ecker: "Queen Mary is threatening to move to Japan."

The new movie version of "Hamlet" runs longer than four hours. Says Jenny Church, "What's Hamlet doing--playing golf? Viewers will be bard to death."

Action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme has checked into a rehab clinic. Says Pearlstein, "He broke three orderlies' ribs before someone finally explained to him what 'kick the habit' means."


Reader Valerie Gorsuch of Palos Verdes Estates had a talk with grandson Brian, 2, about the true meaning of Christmas. Then they went to Mass. When he saw Jesus on the altar, Brian exclaimed, "Where's his hat?" Mystified, Grandma asked, "What hat?" He replied:

"His birthday party hat!"

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