Rep. Peter Smith (R–Vt.) informs constituents in a recent newsletter that he has "traveled to cocoa-producing countries to gain better understanding" of cocoa addiction. Unfortunately, Smith's trip came too late to save Sonny, the Cocoa Puffs bird, who died recently after being hit by a car. The bird stumbled into traffic in a cocoa-induced stupor. His last words were "I'm cuckoo for—"

When fundamentalists asked book stores in Florida to stop selling Playboy and Penthouse, the American Booksellers Association and Waldenbooks slapped them with a RICO suit. But when book stores received letters from gays asking them not to carry Michael Fumento's The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS, it was a different story. Book stores across the country refused to stock the book. Some even discouraged customers from ordering it. And Fumento claims that Waldenbooks refused to order a single copy until he publicly complained about their cowardice. The nation's booksellers will defend to the death their right to sell controversial material, unless it offends AIDS protesters.

At the Southern Baptist Convention, Hoyt Axton lookalike William Bennett said that America's drug problems are "a product of the Great Deceiver." First they opposed flag burning. Now they're taking on Satan himself. Who says the Bush administration can't take an unpopular stand on a controversial issue?

One of the entries in Lincoln Center's recent Serious Fun festival was the opera Manson Family, based on that wacky group of mass murders led by Charles Manson. The piece was originally subtitled Helter Five-O, as author John Moran had replaced Vincent Bugliosi, the man who prosecuted Manson, with "Hawaii Five-O" character Steve McGarrett. But copyright problems forced him to drop the subtitle, and Steve McGarrett became Steve Pentheus. Still, Moran has created a whole new genre of opera: famous criminals meet TV personalities. The possibilities are endless. Ted Bundy rapes and kills Donna Reed. The Loeb and Leopold trial retold with Wally and the Beaver as the killers. The Brady Bunch vacation at a ski lodge run by Alferd Packer.

They are the hottest thing on California beaches. They've been commonplace in Rio and on the French Riviera for years. But thongs, those string bikinis that do little to cover the derrière, are now illegal on Florida state beaches. Lawmakers said the Sunshine State is home to many elderly people, and there have been numerous complaints about the new fashion. Geez, who can blame them? Who wants to see one of the Golden Girls in a string bikini?

In California, the Department of Motor Vehicles has ordered more than 300 drivers to return their personalized license plates or lose their registration. Acting on complaints from the Sons of Italy, the state has blacklisted all plates bearing the words dago and wop. The problem is that most people who have those plates are themselves of Italian descent and resent being told how they can refer to themselves. Several have sued the state to keep their tags. To paraphrase that famous paisana Juliet Capulet, an Italian by any other name still can't be pushed around.

Journalist Gar Smith asked several environmentalists for ideas on how average citizens can save the planet. As reported in the Utne Reader, the results are fascinating. Among the tips: restrict the number of cars, abolish the CIA, give money to every single panhandler you meet, stop using toilet paper, don't own pets, don't own anything that runs on batteries, go to jail for something you believe in, halt weapons production, raise the minimum wage, pass a maximum wage law, start a union. They left out freeing Sacco and Vanzetti.