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Joe Bob's week in review

By JOE BOB BRIGGS

As 50 million homes plunged into darkness, the United States blamed Canada, Canada blamed the United States, New York blamed Ottawa, Ottawa blamed something called the Erie Loop, the Erie Loop blamed lightning, a guy in Akron blamed a computer virus, and CNN blamed the irresponsible policies of the Fox News Channel.


The body of Ted Williams has been decapitated and his head has been shaved, drilled with holes and accidentally cracked ten times, according to a report in Sports Illustrated, which also reported that his head and body are both preserved in liquid nitrogen at a facility in Scottsdale, Ariz., that is still trying to collect $111,000 of the $136,000 cryogenics bill. The next time he steps to the plate, pitchers are gonna be terrified.

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A Chinese toy company is releasing a George Bush action figure, with the prez dressed in the aviator fatigues he wore when he landed on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, complete with workable zippers, flares, helmet, extra oxygen and a parachute harness. "Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush--U.S. President and Naval Aviator" retails for $39.99. Flexible Congress is optional.

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Fox News Channel filed suit against Al Franken, claiming that his new book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right," infringes its trademark on the phrase "fair and balanced." Court papers claim that the book is "likely to cause confusion among the public about whether FOX News has authorized or endorsed the book and about whether Franken is affiliated with FNC." Franken and his publisher, The Penguin Group, will now be forced to countersue, arguing that they trademarked the phrase "news channel" in 1967.


Pham Thi Mai Phuong, the reigning Miss Vietnam, was apparently kidnapped by her boyfriend because he didn't want her to leave the country to study business management at Luton University in England. The boyfriend, Nguyen Binh Khanh, is a police officer and the son of the Haiphong police chief, and he personally didn't need no book larnin.


Faced with lagging Big Mac demand and cutbacks all over the world, McDonald's is launching a gourmet Cajun restaurant called Chef Mac's (yes, that's what we said) in New Orleans (yes, that's what we said). The company did have the sense to locate it away from the French Quarter, lest their muffaletta get walloped.

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Six financial institutions -- Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Merrill Lynch -- conspired with Enron to produce the imaginary numbers that led to its downfall, according to the final report of bankruptcy examiner Neal Batson. But that is SO last year.


Opium production in Afghanistan has skyrocketed under United States occupation, causing Russia to appeal to America to do something to stop it. Heroin has flooded into Russia, increasing drug use, HIV epidemics and hepatitis C, leading drug czar Viktor Cherkessov to point out that Afghanistan just recorded its second largest poppy harvest in history, after the drug business had been all but eliminated by the Taliban. Hey, they wanted plows, we gave em plows.


Vincent Gallo, the "Brown Bunny" film director who issued a public curse on Roger Ebert's prostate in retaliation for the way he thought he was abused by the film critic at the Cannes Film Festival, had his assistant call the "Page Six" gossip column to say that the curse was successful. Ebert does indeed have cancer - not of the prostate but of the salivary gland. Vincent is not into polite networking.


J-Lo ordered a wedding dress from Vera Wang. Why do we always think this is the last time we'll have to write the word "J-Lo"?

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California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger released financial statements showing he's worth about $200 million and earned $31 million in the year 2000 and $26 million in 2001. Since Schwarzenegger is the winner of the 1983 Joe Bob Briggs Lifetime Achievement Award, engraved on an Oldsmobile hubcap -- we have the picture of the grinning honoree around here somewhere -- we think we're entitled to one policy question of the candidate. Here it is: Arnold, we know you love cigars, WILL you go after the California smoking ban? If so, then . . . Arnold! Arnold! Arnold!


Michael McCormick was driving down a Florida highway when he saw an alligator crossing the road, heading directly for a woman holding two infants and with two children at her side. So he pulled over, made a loop in a length of rope, lassoed the gator, and dragged it back to a fence surrounding a retention pond. His friend called police in nearby Tavares --and the cops told him he was in violation of state wildlife laws and ordered him to cut the rope. They also called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which showed up and slapped him with a $250 fine for being in possession of an alligator. Then they called for an official state-approved trapper to catch the freed gator, who was no doubt munching on a baby somewhere.

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When Alegra's Bridal Shop in Austin, Texas, became infested with ants, owner Nancy Owen thought she would simply exterminate them. Unfortunately, her landlord is an animal rights activist who wouldn't allow any killing to go on, ordering her to "move" the ants instead. Unable to figure out a way to move the ants, she moved her business instead, leaving a wonderful space waiting for a picnic supply store.


A supermarket in the Mendoza province of Argentina is requiring cashiers to wear adult diapers to cut down on toilet breaks, according to a labor union investigating the case. Sounds like an urban myth. Is it true? Depends.


Four homes in Cape Coral, Florida, were hooked up to the wastewater treatment system instead of the purified drinking-water system, resulting in . . . uh . . . we don't want to dwell on that.


Supermodel Naomi Campbell says she has "intelligence sources" who keep close tabs on the movements of Osama Bin Laden, which could be explained by the fact that the media does NOT keep close tabs on the movements of Naomi Campbell anymore.


Joe Bob Briggs writes several columns for UPI. Contact him at joebob@upi.com or through his Web site, joebobbriggs.com. Snail mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221.

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