WRONG-TRACK BOYCOTTERS

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A dvice to both the National Organization for Women and Amtrak: Lighten up.

For NOW: Adjustments are needed in its policy of urging members to boycott advertisers that dare to use conservative cheerleader Rush Limbaugh in their campaigns.

NOW's New York chapter called for a boycott of The New York Times because Mr. Limbaugh appears in the Times' new light-hearted ad campaign. The local's heavy-handed reaction follows a national NOW boycott of Florida orange juice that began after that state's citrus industry bought time on Mr. Limbaugh's radio talk show last year.

The Times, of course, has been a loyal NOW supporter through thick and thin. And so, just because the newspaper wants to expand its circulation-building campaign to welcome the political right, NOW has painted itself into the boycott corner. Sorry to see that a Rush to the "right" has led NOW to take another wrong turn.

For Amtrak: Always remember, whether in a nightclub or the world of TV, Rule No. 1 is "Never talk back to the stand-up comedian on the stage."

Steamed by Jay Leno's steady diet of Amtrak jokes on NBC's "Tonight Show," the passenger railroad pulled $2 million worth of commercials from the network. Not the show; the network. Of course, this hands more material to Mr. Leno, who has built his career upon topical humor. Just ask Bill and Hillary, or George and Barbara.

Obviously born out of pique and frustration, Amtrak's action only disrupts its fall marketing plan and probably builds Mr. Leno's ratings. Better if Amtrak simply gulped hard and remained silent. Because Rule No. 2 is: Stand-up comedians eventually have to get new material-especially on the "Tonight Show." It has to do with the show biz track they're traveling.

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