IT WAS, as we say in the trade, all in a day's news. It began on The Post's Metro page: a goldmine of evidence that, somehow, in July, people go bonkers.

First, this report on the Rainbow Family, "400 mellow followers in love beads and dirty jeans, determined to bring peace to the nation's war machine." Machine politics makes strange bedfellows: the first organizer quoted in the story turns out to be a NASA engineer. His explanation of the demonstration? "The bottom line shows the power of the pure heart-song is shared among all peoples' naturalness, the essence of humanity." Obviously. And then there was "Brother Hank," who proposed that the group send "hug-and-kiss patrols" into the Department of Energy -- where, taxpayers surely were thrilled to read, the brother works as an economist in DOE's alternative technologies section.

Some bottom lines of the page were about a federal/local conference designed to give poor people tips on how to cope with hard times. The cost to attend: $50. This, you see, was to cover two lunches and a reception. But it brought protests from a few of the -- get this -- 500 participants. Presumably, the rest bought their way, not to mention the explanation from one official that "I don't care what you charge, you're always going to have some problems."

Problems are what another government program ran into, in Brooklyn: a job training center has been teaching young people how to print. What they printed was counterfeit money. But their arts and crafts -- consisting of $50,000 in bogus fives, tens and twenties -- weren't "a very good or very professional printing job," according to a Secret Service agent. "The paper was too thin, the color too light, the details were missing -- this money looked like it had been through a washing machine."

So much for that job program, but at least youngsters in Baltimore can take heart -- or something -- from the caption under a photo in The Sun of a man breaking a cinderblock with his hands: "The former drug addict and convicted felon said he performs such feats to show inner-city children that they must break away from crime."

Newsbrake, anyone?