Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and dear Po--the stubby stars of British-import kiddie series The Teletubbies--are many things: Educators. Makers of mirth. Spreaders of joy.

Note the omission of: diction-specialists.

The marble-mouthed 'Tubbies, who can't even spit out a proper "hello" (opting instead for "eh-oh"--like anyone is supposed to blinkin' know what that means), now stand accused, in one instance, of shocking a woman with crass vulgarities. And we don't mean "'Cooter." (That's "scooter," in 'Tubbie talk.)

And why do they stand accused? Most likely, it appears, because NO ONE CAN UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY'RE SAYING!

Here's the deal, according to a news report relayed by Associated Press:

At a Kmart in Watertown, New York, a female customer recently reported hearing a Talking Teletubbie doll (the Po edition) instruct her to: "Bite my butt!" Worse, the doll also allegedly uttered the anti-gay epithet, "faggot."

Shocking? Were it true, it would seem to indicate our world's youth was under the influence of a pack of waddling, small-minded creatures with lousy pickup lines--"Bite my butt," indeed!

But, the doll manufacturer swears, it is not--not--true.

Until that one, lone report, Po and friends had a spotless record since their introduction to stores last May, according to Ileen Potrock, spokeswoman for The Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Company, which licenses the dolls in the United States. (Kmart headquarters in Michigan also reported receiving no customer complaints, nor ordering their shelves cleared of Tubster merchandise.)

With no evidence of any funny computer-chip business going on inside the dolls, Potrock says it's believed that the customer simply misheard Po.

How could that happen? Well, let's think...Could it be because THE TELETUBBIES ARE UNINTELLIGIBLE!

By all accounts, the Po doll, as voiced by the original actor from the series, seen in the states on PBS, spouts G-rated stuff like, "Bye bye!," the aforementioned "Eh-oh!" and "Big hugs!"

Successfully deciphering that babble is another matter. Could "big hugs" get garbled into "bite my butt"? It's not impossible.

It's also not impossible to suggest that someone might glean "faggot" from this Po-sung babble: "Fi-dit, fi-dit, ma, ma, ma, man!"

Before you ask, that's Cantonese for (rough translation) "faster, slower." And before you ask why the 'Tubbies, who barely have mastered English, are SINGING IN CANTONESE, they just are. The voice-over actor for Po chose the ditty. Chalk it up as a character choice.

The bottom line: It looks like the 'Tubbies are off the hook.

Of course, on the off-chance you, too, think you hear, say, Tinky Winky insult you, get the thing to put it in writing.

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