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Off-Kilter

March 26, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG

Weird Polls Department: Let's see. Would you rather know the latest statistics on who groped whom at the White House and what percentage of Americans believe the story--or would you prefer a survey on whether Barbie would pay more taxes than G.I. Joe?

We thought so. Here's this week's roundup of weird, useless and stupid polls:

* According to an H&R Block survey of preteens, 60% believe that if the IRS ordered dolls to file 1040s, Barbie would pay more than G.I. Joe. The same survey revealed that 88% of kids don't think the government should tax their weekly allowances and 55% believe President Clinton pays more taxes than Tiger Woods.

* A recent survey of pet owners by the American Animal Hospital Assn. found that 38% of humans phone home during vacations just so their animal will hear their voice.

* A nationwide sleep survey by the Company Store in Wisconsin shows that couples with higher incomes are less likely to slumber in separate bedrooms. Nine out of 10 people earning $50,000 or more prefer snoozing in the same bed as their partner, versus 50% of men and women making less than $20,000. The survey also ranked "most annoying sleep habits." Top choices: snoring, hogging the bed, stealing the covers, and watching TV or talking when the other person wants to sleep.

Tombstone of the Day: Epitaph expert Clyde Chamberlin has published another batch of final words in his latest Solitude in Stone newsletter. For example, a cemetery in Wainscot, Long Island, features a husband and wife in side-by-side graves. The wife's stone says, "Rest in Peace." The husband's reads, "No comment." Anyone want to guess how these two would have answered the sleep survey question about separate beds?

Cease and Desist Department: OK, everyone can stop sending us mail about part three of our continuing bad lyrics saga. We admit that we should have said John Hiatt is responsible for rhyming the words "Queen of Sheba" and "amoeba" in "Thing Called Love." We credited Bonnie Raitt because her version was the most popular. Also, for the record, yes, we knew that R.E.M.'s "What's the frequency, Kenneth, is your Benzedrine" was mostly a quote from the goofball who mugged Dan Rather a few years ago. But the part that qualifies the song for lame lyric status is R.E.M.'s "is your Benzedrine" addendum. And, no, we don't need any more explanations of why the Benzedrine thing might actually make sense. Our amoeba-sized brain is more worried about how to explain to our niece that her Barbie collection could be getting audited this year.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Wonder Drug Makes People Bulletproof!" (Weekly World News)

If you're as alarmed as we are that the Weekly World News is now quoted regularly in the Los Angeles Times, we have some bad news. WWN is also being quoted in the halls of Congress. Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio) recently gave a floor speech about a woman who claims she got pregnant from e-mail. Traficant said the cyber conception demonstrates the need for a "chastity chip" on the Internet. A spokesman for the congressman later told us the speech was a joke, but he insisted the story was real and appeared in either the Washington Times or the Associated Press. However, we ran a computer search of newspapers nationwide and found the tale in only one place: the Weekly World News.

* Roy Rivenburg can be reached by e-mail at roy.rivenburg@latimes.com.

Contributors: Premiere Radio, Wireless Flash

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