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OFF MAIN STREET

White House comedy hour

There were plenty of yuks in the Red Room of the White House Friday when a Secret Service guide took a vacationing Buffalo News reporter and other sightseers on a tour.

At one point, the guide pointed to a portrait of President William Taft and said Taft was his favorite chief executive.

"I like him because he was the heaviest of the presidents, weighing over 300 pounds," said the guide, named T.J.

"Rumor has it he was once stuck in a bathtub," he added.

Another agent chimed in, noting that Taft reportedly was buried in a piano crate.

Since everyone seemed in a joking mood, our inquiring colleague boldly asked about the current president's mea culpas on Monicagate.

"Aaaaahem," said one of the agents, eager to change the subject. "They don't let us comment on living presidents. There's a 30-year cap after they're dead."

No muffins for you!

He finally got his chance, but Jim Cullinan did not taste the fruits -- or muffins -- of his victory at the Amherst Industrial Development Agency.

Cullinan, a critic of the tax breaks handed out to developers by the agency, has attended almost all of the agency's board meetings for six years as a self-appointed watchdog. Now the Town Board has appointed him to the agency, and for the first time Friday he got to sit at the front table -- where members can avail themselves of plump blueberry muffins, rather than the little doughnut holes served to visitors.

But nobody on the board, which wanted someone else appointed, offered to pass the muffins to Cullinan, and he said he didn't want to use his 6-foot-2 frame to reach for them.

"I abstained," he said. "The plate was just too far away."

And the winner is . . .

Rep. Charles Schumer dared to come to Cheektowaga and challenge local kielbasa. Needless to say, he ended up slinking back to Brooklyn in defeat.

At last weekend's Polish-American Festival, Schumer, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for the U.S. Senate, and Assemblyman Paul Tokasz staged a blind taste test pitting Brooklyn-made Eagle brand Polish sausage against our own Redlinski's.

Redlinski's was the winner by a 3-1 vote, according to Cheektowaga Supervisor Dennis Gabryszak, with only Police Chief Bruce Chamberlin picking the Eagle brand.

But it was a close call, said Gabryszak, who went with the more garlicky flavor of Redlinski's. "I wouldn't mind having it (Eagle) again," he said.

Schumer referred to the contest as "kielbasa diplomacy."

Please don't obey

We have no problem with "Cover Your Mouth" -- especially if you're about to sneeze or yawn.

But we were a little concerned about the wisdom of those billboards telling motorists to "Cover Your Eyes" while half of them already are on the cell phone at the same time they're switching lanes and checking their hair in the rearview mirror.

We were relieved, then, to find out the message is not intended to be taken literally by drivers and is instead part of a teaser advertising campaign.

We promised not to tell, but Don Riley of Lamar Outdoor Advertising, one of two firms involved in the campaign, said he couldn't tell what or who is being advertised because he doesn't know himself.

Tales of the ungrateful

Don't you love those cute little stories about a Good Samaritan who finds a wallet full of money and returns it to a grateful owner who rewards him handsomely?

No? Well, you might like this one then.

Kevin de Gruchy of St. Catharines, Ont., was cleaning up the Niagara Parks Commission shop in Niagara Falls, Ont., when he found a wallet crammed with several thousand dollars worth of U.S. and Canadian bills and dutifully turned it in to a supervisor.

When the owner -- and of course he's got to be an American -- discovered his wallet missing, he hastened back to the shop, and you can imagine his relief and gratitude when the wallet was there.

Like we said, you have to imagine his relief and gratitude because he certainly didn't express it.

"He took the wallet, looked at us and said, 'All the money had better be there!' and stomped out," De Gruchy, 20, told the Niagara Falls Review.

"I didn't want his money," De Gruchy said. "He could have said thank you. But when he treated me so rudely, I had some choice comments on my mind, I tell you."

With contributions from Tom Ernst, Patrick LaKamp and Lou Michel.

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