The Boston Globe demanded the resignation of controversial Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle last night after concluding he had stolen someone else's punch lines and misled the paper about it.

The Globe initially suspended Barnicle, 54, yesterday for one month without pay after learning that he had used a series of one-liners in his Sunday column that had been lifted from comedian George Carlin's best-selling 1997 book, "Brain Droppings." But Editor Matthew Storin asked the 25-year veteran to leave the paper after learning that Barnicle, who claimed never to have read Carlin's book, had held it in his hand and recommended it on Boston's WCVB-TV in June.

Barnicle refused to quit, and a Globe spokesman would not say whether he was about to be fired.

"In the past few days and particularly the past few hours, his relationship with his readers and his employers had become untenable," Storin said in a statement last night. In light of the TV clip, "it is clear he misrepresented himself either to his television audience or to his editors. This contradiction is unacceptable."

Earlier yesterday, before the punishment was decided, Barnicle said in an interview that a bartender had given him the jokes and that he did not know they came from the Carlin book. "I did something truly {expletive} stupid and highly embarrassing," he said.

The Barnicle bombshell comes six weeks after Globe columnist Patricia Smith was forced to resign when she admitted she had fabricated all or part of four columns. The departure of Smith, who is black, caused a racial rift and prompted criticism that no action had been taken against Barnicle, a white commentator who has occasionally been accused of inventing characters. But a Globe review of 364 Barnicle columns found no evidence of fiction writing.

The Globe said it learned of the possible plagiarism from a reader Monday. Ten striking similarities to Carlin's work -- on such topics as TV anchors, men's earrings and dogs -- were published yesterday by the Boston Herald.

Barnicle wrote Sunday: "Someday I'd love to see the Pope appear on his balcony and announce the baseball scores."

Carlin's book says: "Someday I wanna see the Pope come out on that balcony and give the football scores."

Barnicle: "I hate it when the person ahead of me in the 12 Items or Less' line decides to pay for a pack of Tic Tacs by writing a check."

Carlin: "Here's something I can do without: People ahead of me on the supermarket line who are paying for an inexpensive item by credit card or personal check. People! Take my word for this: Tic Tacs is not a major purchase."

In an interview before the penalties were announced, Barnicle said he apologized yesterday to Carlin, who replied that he had sent the columnist a copy of his book with the inscription: "Now you can eliminate the middleman."

"I'm sure I'll be equated with Peter Arnett and the Cincinnati Enquirer {in recent journalistic blunders} because there's no sense of proportion in this business," Barnicle said. "I didn't go out and make up a {expletive} column at some event." Still, he said, "I did this to myself."

Barnicle has been a near-legendary figure in Beantown for 25 years, writing a kind of mean-streets column that draws heavily on conversations with police officers and people in downtrodden neighborhoods that many reporters avoid. In Tuesday's column he quoted a retired cop on the exploits of a "huge gangster" now cooperating with authorities: "He killed this girl and wrapped her body up in a rug. . . . Then there were the three black girls at Basin Street South. . . . He practically used black people for target practice in Roxbury."

"It's a sad day for Mike and the Globe," Publisher Benjamin Taylor said last night. The impending loss of its most famous writer is clearly a major blow to the paper.

Dan Kennedy, media writer for the Boston Phoenix, an alternative weekly, noted that "since the dismissal of Patricia Smith, Barnicle has really been under a microscope. People just pore over every column trying to get him. Now, boom, they got him."

Barnicle acknowledged that "the timing isn't the greatest thing in the world, considering what they went through with Pat Smith."

The columnist said he regularly stockpiles funny lines from friends inside and outside the paper. "I collect them on cocktail napkins, in notebooks, by e-mail till I have nothing to write on a nice, hot summer weekend." He said the bartender had given him "six or seven" such jokes. "Unfortunately, they had already occurred to George Carlin."

And what did the bartender say about the outcome? "Jeez, he was sorry."

The late Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko accused Barnicle of lifting material on more than one occasion. Six years ago, Royko said a Barnicle piece about a penniless couple named Joe and Mary was at least inspired by an old Christmas column that Royko reprinted every year. Barnicle called the charge "absurd" and said he had never seen Royko's Christmas tale.

Barnicle tried to get out in front of the controversy yesterday morning by joking on the air with his radio pal Don Imus. "I'm going to the library for my next five columns," he told Imus.

By mid-afternoon, even before he knew his job was in jeopardy, Barnicle was feeling more subdued. "You feel stupid. It's embarrassing," he said. "What can I do about that? I'm stupid and embarrassed." CAPTION: Mike Barnicle said he never read the George Carlin book that contained 10 of the jokes in his column. CAPTION: (Photo ran in an earlier edition) Columnist Mike Barnicle, suspended without pay for plagiarism.