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TONGUES WAG OVER OFFICIAL'S WIRED-SHUT JAW

A politician forced to keep his trap shut?

To a comedian, Gov. Terry Brandstad's painful dilemma - a broken jaw, the result of a sledding accident - is as irresistible as a T-bone to a Rottweiler."I say, free sleds for all politicians," Jay Leno said Tuesday on "The Tonight Show."

"It's pretty serious, breaking your jaw. In fact, doctors say he might not be able to talk out of both sides of his mouth ever again," Leno said.

Branstad, 46, broke his jaw Jan. 17 during an outing with his 8-year-old son, Marcus, when he collided with a riderless sled. Surgeons wired his jaw and told him it would stay shut for six weeks.

"I know there are going to be a lot of political jokes about this, a governor having his mouth wired shut," he said through clenched teeth in a telephone interview before Leno took aim.

"That is going to be really different. It's going to be hard for him," said his wife, Chris. "You know how he likes to talk."

Even though he's unable to make long speeches, Branstad is able to field phone calls and has jawboned with lawmakers about his agenda for the legislative session under way.

The governor said his condition will make it easier to keep a New Year's resolution to lose 20 pounds.

"I'm down five," Branstad said. "This is one heck of a way to lose weight."