Just when we thought we had it all figured out, it turns out that the infamous "Brazilian bikini wax" beloved by moi, as well as free-spirited women everywhere, was actually dreamed up by seven siblings at the J Sisters salon on West 57th Street in New York City. According to Elle Magazine, the pubic coif--originally known as a "landing strip"--gained popularity with buck-teethed men reading Playboy in their basement rec rooms, but later became a full-blown fad after J Sisters gave it an exotic, international name and sold it to their high-class clientele. "We knew we had to be extreme to be different," Jonice Padilha, one of the sisters, tells Elle. "We couldn't call it the 'Playboy,' or it wouldn't be upscale. So we called it 'The Brazilian.'" The sisters then convinced Upper East Side matrons that their short hairs were unruly and that they needed monthly styling. Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan. The J salon has her photo on its wall signed, "You changed my life, Gwyneth." She's not the only celeb on display. You'll find a glossy of yours truly. Taped on the inside cover of the tanning bed.

10 Today Cherie Blair, wife of the British prime minister, conceded that she made mistakes in her involvement with an Australian con man. (Lord, girl, who hasn't?) Choking back tears at one point, she said she erred (twice!) by allowing someone she barely knew to become involved in her family's affairs, and by evading media questions in an attempt to protect her family's privacy. The Associated Press reported that the office of Prime Minister Tony Blair accused the press of "character assassination," and insisted there was no evidence of wrongdoing in Cherie Blair's dealings with Peter Foster, a convicted con man. After days of newspaper stories about Foster helping her close a $790,000 property deal, the prime minister's office said Cherie Blair had not acted illegally or improperly, though perhaps impishly and naughtily. But allegations that immigration officials tried to hasten Foster's deportation from Britain and that Cherie Blair called the con man's lawyers to discuss his case have kept rumors swirling. Mrs. Blair said she had not known the "full story" about Foster until a couple of weeks ago, and that she had only met him once "for less than five minutes." In a truck stop restroom. No, wait. That's OUR Australian con man story. "I am sorry if I have embarrassed anyone, but the people who know me well know that I would never want to harm anyone least of all Tony or the children or the Labor government, or misuse my position in any way," Cherie Blair said. She did not apologize for her first name.

We've all gotten plastered at a birthday party and said something we regretted later, haven't we? Last week, incoming Senate majority leader Trent Lott, a Mississippian and a Republican, revealed his true colors at Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday bash when he said that we'd be better off if Thurmond had been elected president in 1948. Which would have been fine, except that Strom Thurmond ran on a racist segregationist platform in 1948, and EVERYONE knows that segregation is BAD. Today Lott went on Larry King to fumble over his words and make excuses, explaining that he said he thought Thurmond should have won in 1948--not because he was a white supremacist, but because he was "a man that's been very strong in making sure our country has a strong national defense." First of all--it's a man WHO, not a man THAT'S. Second of all, segregation is BAD.

Trent Lott apologized AGAIN today for his racism and narrow-mindedness, explaining that he was unaware of his state's own history telling the media that he was only seven years old in 1948, and didn't know how to pee by himself--much less that black people weren't monkeys. News reports this morning indicate that Lott had made similar remarks about Thurmond at a 1980 rally for Ronald Reagan--"You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today," the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger reported at the time. When asked about the comment, a Lott spokesman said that "Lott was praising the policies of Thurmond and Reagan, of smaller government and reducing the federal deficit." Lott did not offer explanation of his

friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Bob Jones University, which still forbids interracial dating, except to say that he thought it was Davy Jones University and that he'd always been a fan of white musicians.

In other news, The New York Times reported that the Bush administration has announced a modest increase in fuel economy requirements for sport utility vehicles, minivans, and small trucks, beginning with the 2005 model year. The Transportation Department rule will require fleet-average fuel economy for so-called "light trucks"--any passenger vehicle big enough for five child soccer prodigies, but not big enough to haul beef to market--to increase a whopping 1.5 miles per gallon over three years, bringing some SUVs up to 16 mpg. The mileage requirement for other passenger vehicles will remain 27.5 miles per gallon, where it has been since 1990. Spokesmen for the auto makers said a 1.5-mpg increase was "a significant increase" and a "daunting" challenge if producers are to continue to provide customers with a wide range of SUVs, including the larger models. Environmentalists had a good laugh and then drank poison and threw themselves down on the Alaskan tundra.

According to the Oregonian, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has stepped down as chairman of a panel investigating the Sept 11 attacks, citing controversy over potential conflicts of interest with his business clients and because people kept making fun of his glasses. "It is clear that, although specific potential conflicts can be resolved in this manner, the controversy would quickly move to the consulting firm I have built and own," Kissinger wrote in a letter to President Bush, who appointed him. "I have, therefore, concluded that I cannot accept the responsibility you proposed." The panel's original vice chairman, former Sen. George Mitchell, resigned from the commission Wednesday, partly because of pressures to quit his law firm. No replacement for Kissinger was announced, but Bush was expected to fill the position soon with someone who is completely unemployed. The top candidate is "Leah," a lifelike doll with a

completely articulated skeleton allowing for anatomically correct positioning, plus an exclusive blend of the most expensive silicone rubbers for an ultra-fleshlike feel.

To the shock of pundits and humor columnists everywhere, Al "You Won't Have Me To Kick Around" Gore announced today that he will not run for president in 2004, a post he won just two years ago. Of course this is terrible news, because it almost certainly means that Joseph Leiberman will run, and if there is anyone who is LESS funny than Al Gore, it is Joe "I Am A Puppet of the Party" Lieberman. Gore, who in the past few weeks has been touring talk shows in an effort to drum up support from a skeptical and vaguely irritated public, is expected to begin growing a beard immediately. (We hope this has nothing to do with that night in the hot tub, Al. We swear we thought you and Tipper were separated.)