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Presents you couldn't even re-gift next year

Published Aug. 24, 2005

The top returned gifts of Christmas, 2004:

Pain Depot's Holiday Pain-Relief Pak: It must have seemed like a good idea at the time _ a gift basket full of some of the most popular pain relievers, just the thing for relieving holiday stress. But at Pain Depot, returns have been fast and furious. "We tried putting a sticker on the basket saying "Not Banned by the FDA Yet,' " Pain Depot chief Tom Hafling said, "but apparently, the whole thing gave people the heebie-jeebies."

Learn Basketball the Ron Artest Way: This interactive CD-ROM, designed to teach the young player the basketball technique of explosive Indiana Pacer Ron Artest, was expected to be one of the biggest hits of the holiday season, until parents got a gander at the "special features." One segment shows how to leap over the opposing team's bench and pummel catcalling fans. "Some parents have actually returned it without asking for their money back," one retailer said.

Bill O'Reilly Pay 'n' Play Phone for Kids: Retailers are still scratching their heads over why the popular Fox News personality lent his name to an educational toy aimed at children who are too young (4 to 6) to have watched his TV show. Even more mystifying, though, is why any parents bought one. Educators agree that O'Reilly's recorded voice teaches kids how to use the phone, but mothers and fathers are still giving the toy a big thumbs down.

Bernard Kerik Homeland Security Chief Action Figure: Toy industry insiders call toymaker WhamPow's decision to ship 90,000 units of this high-end action figure based on former New York City Police Commissioner Kerik the most boneheaded move in recent memory. WhamPow fired off the $39.95 Kerik toy within minutes of his nomination as Homeland Security secretary, so the lifelike baldheaded item was already on toy store shelves by the time his nomination was withdrawn. WhamPow CEO Hans Doolin is philosophical: "I guess we should have checked out Kerik before we shipped the toy, but that wasn't really our job."

Andy Borowitz is author of The Borowitz Report: The Big Book of Shockers (Simon & Schuster, 2004).

Special to the Los Angeles Times