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Arms Furor Reaps Puns, Cruel Jokes and Nicknames

December 5, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ How about ″Iranamok″? Or ″Contradeceptive″?

How can there be a real scandal without a catchy name?

While Washington goes about the serious business of sorting out who did what and who knew what in the complicated matter of U.S. arms sales to Iran, through Israel, with some of the payments diverted to Contra rebels in Nicaragua by way of a numbered Swiss bank account controlled by the CIA (whew), a lot of less serious folk are struggling to come up with a name for the whole thing.

It hasn’t been easy. But people who live in the nation’s capital, and have seen scandals in other years, are trying desperately to upgrade the Iranian arms affair.

″Iranscam″ was the winner in Thursday voting by several hundred listeners to radio station WCLY in Greenbelt, Md., just outside the city.

″Contrascam,″ ″Contragate,″ ″Armsgate″ and other such derivatives were suggested by many callers to the station, suggesting imaginations are still controlled by the Watergate scandal that forced Richard M. Nixon out of the White House and the Abscam scandal that sent a senator and several congressmen to jail.

Other nominees phoned in to the station, including ″Iranamok″ and ″Contradeceptive,″ were a bit more original. Listeners, many of them presumably government workers, also came up with:

″Contrafiction,″ for those who have trouble believing what officials are saying.

″Payatollah″ or ″Ayatollah-so″ to get the Iranian leader’s name in.

″Reagan-armics″ or ″Gipper’s Gap″ or even ″Bonzo’s Boo-Boo″ for those who blame the president.

″Scantra-claus,″ suggested WCLY disc jockey Scott Woodside, combining ″scam″ and the Contras and a hint of the Christmas season.

″I like it because I thought of it,″ he said in a telephone interview, ″but I can’t see it behind Peter Jennings,″ as on a television graphic display.

Time Magazine also volunteered some possibilities this week, including ″Ollie’s Follies″ and ″Cuckoo Iran and Ollie″ to focus on the involvement of Lt. Col. Oliver North, the fired White House national security aide.

Hard to see those appearing routinely in headlines either. Perhaps that’s a good sign for those involved if it means the whole matter can never be boiled down to an easy-to-grasp tagline.

But nominations are still open, as are candidates for crude joke of the week. Such as: ″We used to be the arsenal of democracy, now we’re the arsenal of the ayatollah.″

Or: ″Say, did you hear they’re honoring (Lt. Col. Oliver) North at the Pentagon? Yeah, it’s now the ’North Parking Lot.‴