Scope is learning a painful lesson: Provoking Rosie O'Donnell can leave a bad taste in your mouth.
With an eager assist from the mouthwash company's arch rival, Listerine, the talk show queen has exacted sweet revenge for a Scope poll that proclaimed O'Donnell one of the nation's least kissable celebrities.
The poll, released just before Valentine's Day, listed O'Donnell along with such notables as Newt Gingrich and Dennis Rodman.
O'Donnell quickly went on the attack.
"I'd just want you to remember that Listerine kills the germs that cause bad breath," she said on her talk show Feb. 18. "And remember, just say nope to Scope.
"I will teach them to mess with me," she added with a laugh.
Listerine showered O'Donnell with love notes, calling her the "queen of kissing" and placing lip-smacking newspaper ads about her.
The mouthwash-maker also agreed to donate $1,000 to For All Kids, an O'Donnell fund for disadvantaged children, each time she kissed someone on her show, probably until May.
The bonanza of publicity hasn't come cheap. Through Thursday, Listerine's parent company said it has donated $151,000.
Listerine and Scope account for about 60 percent of the mouthwash market, with Listerine clearly ahead.
The running gag has become a running nightmare for Scope.
"It was intended in fun," said Jim Schwartz, a spokesman for Scope's corporate parent, Procter & Gamble. "We didn't mean to inadvertently hurt anyone. We've offered our apologies and they've been accepted."