The governor must be stopped before he invests again.

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The Longest Yard
After weeks of defending the state's investment in rare coins -- without bothering to check if his boast of huge returns was actually true -- Governor Bob Taft has finally learned that it isn't a good idea to sink $55.4 million into . . . collectibles.

"I can go to any barroom or bowling alley in the state of Ohio . . . and everybody understands what I'm talking about, 'cause rare coins are the things you see on TV late at night," says state Senator Marc Dann (D-Liberty) of the bizarre investment scheme.

Dann made his comments last week after it was revealed that $12 million is missing from a collectible-coin fund managed by Tom Noe, a top Republican sugar daddy. The fact that it took so long for Taft to come to Jesus suggests that he's either corrupt and covering up for his buddy, or that the biggest moron in Ohio is holding the purse strings. "He's somebody who I wouldn't trust to handle my son's bar mitzvah money," Dann says.

Taft isn't the only one who looked the other way. Attorney General Betty Montgomery and Auditor Jim Petro have long known about the problem, Dann notes, but failed to act. "I think Petro, Montgomery, and Taft are accomplices after the fact to this. They've helped him avoid prosecution," Dann says of Noe. "The watchdogs turned out to be lapdogs -- or even worse, guard dogs for Noe."

The bad publicity, of course, isn't especially good for a state with an already formidable reputation for incompetence. On the bright side, however, we should soon be awash in new visitors trying to sell Taft penis-enlargement patents and Yu-Gi-Oh cards.

"Our governor looks like a bumbling idiot," Dann says. "It won't be long before Jon Stewart and Jay Leno and David Letterman are on this."

Now Dann is wondering whether the legislature needs to pass new imbecile-proof investment laws, which would prohibit such practices as buying a $3 Rolex from a guy in the alley behind a bar.

"Do you really need to pass a law that you can't invest in a Mickey Mantle autographed bat?" Dann asks. "I think anybody in state government should be smart enough to figure that out without the legislature telling them."

Unfortunately, Taft isn't.

Not Jew enough
Leo Sternbach, the inventor of Valium, may have given the world the gift of chill, but apparently that was just a subterfuge to disguise his real passion: boosting the Aryan cause.

So says the Cleveland Jewish News.

When the 97-year-old Sternbach was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, reporter Herb Geduld pointed out that while Sternbach is Jewish, he refused to practice his faith. "Mankind received a great benefactor in Leo Sternbach," Geduld opined, "but perhaps Hitler achieved a posthumous victory, as well."

"Hitler was determined to exterminate the Jews," Geduld explained to Punch. "And this guy helped him by raising his children outside of the Jewish faith."

So remember, parents: Before you choose a religion for your kids, don't forget to ask that most pressing of ecclesiastical questions: What Would Hitler Do?

Don't mess with Mrs. Meiners
Last month, state trooper Scott Powers pulled over the wife of Avon Lake Councilman Larry Meiners after watching her roll through a stop sign. Powers let Lady Meiners off with a warning -- but even that was too stern for the VIP's wife.

The highway patrol soon got a call from Councilman Larry, who was none too happy. "He was worked up because his wife had been pulled over," says Sergeant Chris Midkiff, the ever-so-friendly supervisor who took the complaint. "She said the trooper was rude to her." Meiners also employed the old Do you know who I am? technique, making sure that Midkiff understood that he, Larry Meiners, was in fact a powerful Avon Lake councilman.

"I think he was just bringing it to my attention," deadpans Midkiff.

The patrol investigated -- i.e., Powers was asked whether he'd been rude -- and determined that the trooper is an all-around nice dude. But by the time the patrol called Meiners back, the councilman apparently discovered that running an amateur power play on a low-rent beef isn't the wisest of moves. "He apologized," Midkiff says.

The killing tradition
Memorial Day is about paying respect to those who've died in service. So the Hartville Memorial Day Flea Market did its best to ensure that people keep dying.

Amid the vendors selling Amish cheese and vintage jewelry, many men spent their day off haggling over rifles, switchblades, and AK-47s.

For the hardcore war enthusiasts, one vendor (who declined to provide his name) was even peddling an impressive Breda Modello 37, a machine gun that's propped on a tripod and fed by an ammo belt. Though it was priced to move at $1,000, the seller was willing to drop the price to $800 -- a steal for a weapon that can shoot down planes.

The $1.8 million curse
Two months after it hit the market, the Bay Village home of former Browns scapegoat Jeff Garcia is still for sale, just sitting there for anyone with $1.8 million to snatch up.

It's a gorgeous lakefront colonial, with three bedrooms, four full baths, a steam room, and two media rooms with built-in projection screens -- perfect for breaking down film of your kids' tee-ball game or that keg stand from your sophomore year. Now, son, look carefully at how I don't spill a drop of the Natty Light.

But the house also bears the Garcia Curse. The new owner will have to watch his or her career and reputation disintegrate in a matter of months, only to end with a firing and a forced move to -- you guessed it! -- Detroit!

Realtor Bill Spang says he usually tries to sell the media room and location, while keeping that whole curse thing on the down-low. "I don't even bring that up," he tells Punch. "Please. I wanna sell houses."

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