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LAUGH LINES

Punch Lines

July 19, 1998

Smoke Alarm: North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms is recovering from knee surgery. "He's doing fine. In fact, today he asked everyone, 'Instead of flowers, please make a contribution to the tobacco lobby.' " (Steve Voldseth)

Starr Saga: "Bill Clinton expressed his thanks to the Florida wildfire fighters and invited them to Washington to try to put out Kenneth Starr." (Stan Kaplan)

The Tax Bill: Congress has passed its IRS reform bill, designed to be more taxpayer-friendly. "Under the bill, the IRS is required to bring flowers to the audit and call you in the morning to thank you." (Gary Easley)

Big Smiles: It was reported that the man who created the Happy Face logo made $45 for his creation. "Boy was he overpaid." (Rudolph J. Cecera)

Dirty Dancing: Miami schools have outlawed lewd and obscene dancing. "When I was in school, we did the Frug, the Jerk, Surfer Stomp and Funky Chicken. We weren't obscene, we were dorks." (Kenny Noble Cortes)

Bump and Grind: Strippers at a San Francisco club have won the right to be considered employees instead of independent contractors. "This allows them access to unemployment, retirement and catastrophic health-care insurance in case of chest colds." (Gary Easley)

Dolittle Delicacy: A Japanese TV food show serves stir-fried Bengal tiger. "Not recommended unless you're so hungry you could eat a horse." (Cortes)

Consumer News: More than 1 million GM vehicles are being recalled for having malfunctioning airbags. "In a related story, more than 10 million cars are being recalled for being Fiats." (Jarrett Grode)

The Essential David Letterman

Top signs France is celebrating its World Cup victory:

10. A good old-fashioned poodle roast.

9. French-kissing the guy who yells "Gooooooooooooaaallll!"

8. Surrendering to Germany.

7. Dousing coach with tub of melted brie.

6. Being thankful that they finally won something without begging the United States for help.

1. I'm going to Euro Disney.

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

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