Morrissey, Ever Impolitic

Sure, as the vocalist of the '80s band the Smiths, Morrissey is used to making hits, but now the outspoken singer has caused a hailstorm of Internet hits on a newspaper's Web site after he made an over-the-top remark at a weekend concert in Dublin.

The Manchester Evening News reported that the mopey crooner stopped the concert to alert his fans that former president Ronald Reagan had died, then added that he wished it were President Bush instead. (What can we expect from a man who sings "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"?)

A newspaper spokesman said the paper's Web site was inundated with complaints from thousands of people, 90 percent of them from the United States. (A few, it's fair to note, agreed with the remark.)

Morrissey's record company, Sanctuary Records, didn't exactly confirm Morrissey's quip, saying: "We do not have a recording of the gig, but as far as we can tell, Morrissey was just alerting the audience to the fact that Ronald Reagan had died. He then simply followed that up with his comment about George Bush, which was his own opinion. He is no stranger to controversy."

Yeah, heaven knows.

That'll Be the Day

John Wayne vs. Fox's teenage drama "The O.C." His persona is a tough-talkin' cowboy; they're a bunch of oversexed teenagers going through high school's trials and tribulations in wealthy Orange County, Calif. He has been in too many movies to count; their second season starts in November. His nickname is "Duke"; they're today's version of "Beverly Hills, 90210." Still, a Southern California politician thinks that if the real Orange County changed the name of its airport from John Wayne Airport to "The O.C. Airport," more people would want to travel there. (Since when do the names of airports have anything to do with a traveler's choice of destination?)

Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby suggested the name change to his colleagues Tuesday night. For the record, he has no problem with the Duke; he just wants to capitalize on the newfound popularity of the TV show. Though a Fox spokesman calls it "flattering," others object to the idea.

"TV shows come and go. We could call it the 'American Idol' Airport," says Karen Anderson, editor of CityLine, the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce's publication. "I think they should just leave well enough alone."

Imagine how excited Norby would get if the show was actually filmed in Orange County instead of Los Angeles County.

Noted . . .

Brigitte Bardot owes the French government $6,050 for racist remarks she wrote in her best-selling book, "Un cri dans le silence" (A Cry in the Silence), a Parisian court ruled yesterday. The court said the sex kitten-turned-animal rights activist depicted Muslims as "invaders, barbaric and cruel, responsible for terrorist acts, wishing to subdue the French people to the point of extermination." In May, Bardot told the court: "I never knowingly wanted to hurt anybody. It is not in my character. If I did hurt someone, I'm sorry." . . . Spotted in Washington: Iraq's interim president, Ghazi Yawar, ordering sirloin at the Oceanaire Seafood Room on Wednesday night. (Steak? Perhaps he couldn't get his favorite Iraqi river fish.) He dined privately with five others and was accompanied "with about four times as much security personnel outside the room and in front of the restaurant," spies tell us. . . . If Katie Couric is looking sun-kissed, it's because she caught some rays on the sundeck of Washington's Sports Club/LA yesterday morning.

. . . and Quoted

"I'm back, I'm black and I'm chasing young white meat!"

-- Newly single 49-year-old guitarist Eddie Van Halen, bizarrely explaining to Guitar World magazine why he's excited to be on a reunion tour with his band.

-- Compiled by Anne Schroeder

from staff and wire reports