? When they discovered Republican leaders passing out campaign checks from a tobacco PAC on the House floor, Democrats were incensed. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and Minority Whip David Bonior called a press conference to denounce the practice of distributing special interest money on the floor. But when reporters repeatedly asked Gephardt and Bonior whether they'd ever given such money to their members on the House floor, the duo wasn't so dynamic. At first they refused to answer the questions. Then they grabbed a couple of freshman Democrats to tell the press they'd never taken money under such circumstances, while Gephardt and Bonior left the room.

? Thomas Passmore thought his right hand was possessed by the devil. Taking to heart the biblical command, "If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off," the Norfolk, Virginia, native removed his hand with a circular saw. When he was rushed to the hospital, he refused to give doctors consent to try to reattach the hand. He told them he feared he would go to hell if it were put back. Now Passmore doesn't know how that nutty idea got into his head. He says the hospital should have ignored his commands and reattached the hand anyway. Since they didn't, he's suing them for $3.35 million.

? The Internal Revenue Service has spent more than $3 billion upgrading its computer system. The results, according to a government audit: The IRS can't substantiate what it claims to have collected in taxes, and it can't verify a significant portion of its own payroll.

? And in Rock Hill, South Carolina, a state trooper pulled over Patti Redden for violating state laws against indecency. Seems the trooper was upset by Redden's window decal showing a little boy urinating on the letters IRS.

? In Bedford, Virginia, an elementary school teacher confiscated a book a fourth-grader brought to class. The teacher felt the book, containing a chapter on condoms and sexual disease, wasn't appropriate for a school setting. The book was Rush Limbaugh's The Way Things Ought to Be.

? An Associated Press investigation found that Maryland state police are four times as likely to stop blacks as to stop whites on Interstate 95. More than 75 percent of motorists stopped and searched on the highway by a special drug squad are black. The police deny that they single out individuals of any race.

? Scott Snyder, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Georgia, watched six daytime soap operas for 10 days and diagnosed the minds of 100 characters on the shows. His finding: "The incidence of personality disorders is vastly higher than in real people." Thanks for connecting those dots for us, Scott.

? How smart is the average American? For each of the following questions, fewer than half of Americans polled on basic science answered correctly: 1) True or false, human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals. 2) True or false, the earliest human beings lived at the same time as the dinosaurs. 3) How long does it take for the Earth to go around the sun: one day, one month, or one year?

? The city of Belvedere, California, has paid $90,000 to three workers who were offended by O.J. Simpson jokes posted by the town's police chief. The three complained that the jokes created a "pervasive and hostile work environment."

? In Pennsylvania, Lycoming County Coroner George W. Gedon has been charged with theft and burglary. Police contend he has stolen from bodies and from the homes of dead people. His lawyer says Gedon has explanations for all of the items, including a stolen dog dish, found in his possession.

? The Olympics have come and gone, and one part of them we missed is the performance originally planned by France's synchronized swimming team. The team wanted to aquatically recreate the herding of Jewish women into Nazi death camps and their deaths in gas chambers. France's sports minister decided the show was tasteless and ordered the team not to perform it.