Do You Take This Lobbyist . . .?

Congressman Stevie Playa leaves his self-respect at the altar.

Sean Costello House of Blues Sunday, February 27
Congressman Steve LaTourette has made it official: No man can put asunder what covetousness has joined together.

On February 20, LaTourette (R-The Playa's Ball) married Jennifer Laptook, his 33-year-old mistress. Eyebrows were raised when the happy couple omitted the "or poorer" portion of their vows.

The whirlwind romance was exposed in 2003. LaTourette, papers revealed, had been cheating on his wife of 21 years with Laptook, who was then his chief of staff. As the affair heated up, LaTourette proceeded to unceremoniously dump his wife over the phone. In a moment of class, he chose not to call collect.

Last year Laptook, by then a lobbyist, pillowtalked her way into more than $15 million in federal funds from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee -- making her one of Cleveland's most successful lobbyists. Coincidentally, LaTourette was a high ranking member of the committee.

Rather than register for wedding gifts at Bed Bath & Beyond, the newlyweds opted instead to back a Brinks truck up to the National Treasury and loot it the old-fashioned way.

An energetic defense
For sane companies, a gaping hole in a nuclear reactor lid would serve as a wake-up call. Not FirstEnergy, which attends to its safety problems like a husband asked to take out the trash during a Cavs game.

Three years ago, FirstEnergy came within a quarter-inch of obliterating northern Ohio. An acid leak had eaten a pineapple-sized hole in the reactor lid at the company's Davis-Besse nuke plant near Toledo. If the leak continued for two more months, Ohio would have made Three Mile Island look like Cancun.

FirstEnergy hired the New York consulting firm Human Performance Analysis to get to the bottom of the problem. After interviews with hundreds of workers, the consultants found that many grunts blamed lax managers for the nuclear snafu.

FirstEnergy's solution: transfer those lax managers to new, equally important positions. As Punch likes to say, nothing like a near-meltdown to jump-start a stagnant career!

Even company flacks are hard-pressed to find accomplishments to tout. "Over the last year, the assessments don't show much improvement," admits FirstEnergy spokesman Richard Wilkins. "We aren't where we want to be, and our goal is to continuously improve."

Beware the spork!
Prison guards have long lived with the threat of getting shivved. Now they have to worry about a new weapon: the dreaded spork.

Sporks are the half-spoon, half-fork utensils found in such hardened armories as Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and El Pollo Loco. They're also apparently available at the Tri-County Regional Jail in Champaign County, which set the stage for violence.

A few years ago, two corrections officers who were delivering a meal to an inmate in isolation suddenly found themselves confronted with a WMD -- Weapon of Mashed Potato Destruction. Luckily, one of the officers was able to disarm the inmate before she could do serious damage to either the guards or a Chalupa.

The inmate was convicted of felonious assault for the brutal attack. But last month, an appellate court reversed the conviction, saying that a spork doesn't qualify as a deadly weapon.

Tell that to the sporkologists at The site details how sporks can be modified to make a sporfoontapult that's "perfect for launchings." Al Qaeda has already downloaded the plans.

Sepko filled an inflatable pool with chocolate pudding, threw on "Let's Get Ready to Rumble," and lured several women into the ring with free booze and a $300 first prize. By the time the first match went off, the bar looked like a Promise Keepers convention -- a sea of eager men, all hoping for a life-changing experience.

Standout performances included saucy 22-year-old Jessica, who, after taking a first-round beating from a woman calling herself "Bar Bitch," turned to the more time-tested strategy of taking off her top, swigging a beer, and smiling for the crowd.

Punch-modern art
Though Punch has been labeled a philistine -- accurately so -- even a moron can occasionally stumble upon genius. Behold, in the upper lefthand corner of this page, Punch's contribution to the canon of classical art. We call it: "Man Getting Punched in Face."

The illustration was created by L.A. artist Eric White. Luckily, we found him back when he was a nobody. Now his artwork is being snatched up by Leonardo DiCaprio and mentioned on hot shows like The O.C. Galleries are falling all over themselves to showcase his newest creations, which are decidedly more surreal.

"My influences include Dalí, Dr. Seuss, Mad magazine, and George Lucas," says White.

Which gives Punch an idea: How about drawing Alfred E. Neuman kicking the crap out of the Lorax?

Tourette: Not frickin' funny
Our favorite press release this month comes from the Tourette Syndrome Association, which has recruited actress Neve Campbell (Party of Five, Scream, and half the movies on Skinemax) in its crusade against Tourette jokes, such as those in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.

Says Campbell: "By reducing the stigma FUCK! and misunderstanding associated with Tourette Syndrome, and educating people about its more common symptoms SHIT!, this campaign will help foster acceptance and hopefully bring SCREAM 3 SUCKED! an end to discrimination for those living with TS."

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