Martha Stewart to be spared death penalty

By John Breneman

Now that she's finished taping the pilot of her new TV series "Martha Stewart Living in the Big House," the infamous domestic diva is busy filming an episode on jailhouse culinary tips like 101 recipes for bread and water and how to bake a decadent Chocolate Hacksaw Layer Cake.

An upcoming "Arms & Crafts" segment will feature tips for polishing those tarnished brass knuckles, 101 uses for a broken razor blade, and the highlight: Stewart showing how to disable a bull-dyke prison guard with a crude but elegant diamond-studded shiv. Also: how to turn a frilly pillow case into a deadly weapon by filling it with soda cans and savagely whipping it about like Sean Penn in "Bad Boys."

Convicted Friday on one count of fibbing to the feds and three counts of being an obscenely rich bitch, Stewart, will likely escape the death penalty, according to most of the "legal analysts" called upon to dish out zesty TV soundbites.

She is expected to do time, however, and the consensus is this will send a message that people have no sympathy for pretentious one-woman media conglomerates with a mean streak.

Other legal insights gained from the trial: It doesn't pay to parade into court flaunting a handbag that costs more than what most jurors earn in a year. And, the government is not afraid to spend millions to try someone for a $50,000 stock swindle if the defendant is famous enough to advance the careers of all those involved.

Though critics have suggested the case against Stewart was motivated by her celebrity status, prosecutors are deflecting all such questions, including those involving book or movie deals, to their agents.

The jury is still out on whether the verdict will harm her career as a product pitch-woman, but Kmart today introduced a new Martha Stewart line of stylish but affordable orange jumpsuits.

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Steroids infiltrating Washington, Wall St.

By John Breneman

Recent reports of a steroid epidemic in Major League Baseball have spurred shocking allegations about widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs among stock brokers, politicians and TV news reporters.

"Half the brokers on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange are juiced," claimed Andrew Stenedione, a retired Merrill Lynch financial analyst.

"Those guys are animals. Once I was about to buy 5,000 shares of Bristol Myers Squibb and this 6-foot-7, 320-pound broker just slammed me to the floor to block my deal," he said.

"Another time I was trying to sell 10,000 shares of MuscleTech at 40 1/8 and one of Salomon Smith Barney's goon -- eyes bulging, veins popping out of his head -- screamed, 'Gimme those shares at 20 3/4 or I'll rip your friggin' spine out!'"

Meanwhile, calls for mandatory testing are being heard from Wall Street to Washington amid reports of ripped politicians and bulked-up TV news anchors buying new wardrobes because they can no longer fit into their tailored three-piece suits.

Violent filibusters and legislative "smackdowns" are all the rage in Washington, where once-flabby lawmakers are returning from recess looking like Hulk Hogan. And Congressional watchdogs say there is alarming evidence that some lawmakers are turning to Human Growth Hormone to enhance their legislative performance.

"One well-known Democrat went from sponsoring 12 pieces of legislation in the 2000 legislative session to 147 bills in 2001. You don't get that kind of production from diet and exercise," said an anonymous Republican strategist. "God help us if Teddy Kennedy gets a hold of this stuff."

Baseball notes: All eyes are on Giants slugger Barry Bonds this spring as closes in on the all-time record for baseball's largest head. … Jason Giambi, chisel-chest first baseman of the N.Y. Yankees, raised suspicions when he reported for spring training a scrawny shadow of his former he-man self. But the shrinkage had nothing to do with quitting steroids now that the heat is on; Giambi explained that he lost the weight by laying off those fattening peanut butter and Human Growth Hormone sandwiches. … Just in case Giambi loses power, the Yanks signed the Incredible Hulk to come of the bench and play DH. … And finally, Jose Canseco, the original poster boy for anabolic goodies, was cut by the Dodgers because he flat-out stinks.

Col. Qadhafi goes 'ballistic'

By John Breneman

Libyan crazy man Moammar Qadhafi has informed the United Nations that he is "sick and tired of having my name spelled 10 different ways."

Col. Gadhaffi, whose name is routinely spelled Kadhafi, Gadhdhafi, Qadhafi, Khaddafi and countless other variations in press reports, said he believes the spelling fiasco is part of a western conspiracy to irritate him into "firing off a bunch of nuclear bombs and maybe a little mustard gas."

Qadhafi, whose first name is also spelled Muammar, Mu'ammar or Mohammar, is reportedly "going ballistic" over the inconsistencies.

In a letter addressed to "American President Jorge W. Boosh," Kadhafi revealed that he is considering changing his name to make it easier for the international media to accurately write about him.

Among the possibilities he is reportedly mulling: Mo Hammer Q. Daffy, Mojo McNasty and Mo Mr. Coffee. Also, Fred MacMurray.

Critics say Khaddafi hasn't been getting his name in the paper as much lately with all the attention to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and is probably just trying to drum up a little publicity.

Other heads of state in the news today:

A leaner, meaner Palestinian leader ... Yasser Arafat is sporting a buff new physique and shilling his "Ara-Slim Weight Loss Plan" in infomercials on Al-Jazeera TV.

Arafat, who offers diet advice like: "Eat nothing but mortar dust for three weeks," has also released a rap recording under his newly created Ara-Phat label.

Gen. Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan, accidentally detonated a small nuclear device in his office yesterday. Musharraf reported that he was "cleaning the weapon" when all of a sudden it "just went off."

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is seeking U.S. support for his plan to execute anyone who he thinks might try to assassinate him. He is also considering banning the consumption of Dinty Moore Beef Stew in his country.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Jiang Zemin has suffered a pulled hamstring and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is thinking of getting a pony.

Bush wins Oscar, thanks Axis of Evil

By John Breneman

And the winner for Best Actor in a Geopolitical Drama is … George W. Bush in "Master and Commander: The Middle East Side of the World."

Bush, following in the tradition of the legendary Republican thespian Ronald Reagan, beat out Donald Rumsfeld, nominated for his portrayal of a bellicose Cabinet official who refuses to let international objections and shaky intelligence stop him from waging war in "Pirates of the Mediterranean: Curse of the Black Oil."

Looking mischievously presidential in a double-breasted Giorgio Armani tuxedo with a red, white and blue satin bowtie and $20,000 Bruno Magli ostrich-skin cowboy boots, Bush started by thanking his director, Dick Cheney.

"I'd also like to thank the Axis of Evil giving me this opportunity to rid the world of terror," said Bush, who went on to thank his costume designer for the snappy military flightsuit he wore in the surreal "Mission Accomplished" sequence and script consultant Clint Eastwood for such memorable lines as "Bring 'em on," "smoke 'em out" and "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."

Warning: Do not drift off to sleep while flipping between the Oscars and CNN.

This Oscar moment brought to you by
the makers of Oscar Mayer bologna:

The annual Oscars pre-awards coverage consists primarily of stars promenading along the red carpet and smiling while a TV pinhead poses the obligatory "What are you wearing?" query. But just once you wish the diva draped in designer finery would tell the whole truth.

"Well my dress is by Versace. My face is by Dr. Sergio Scalpelli and my botox is by SkinTech Pharmaceuticals. Oh, and my cleavage is by Dr. Tripp L.D. Gazongas. He's the best."

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Grain Expectations

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