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THE PRESIDENT may have a lot to...


THE PRESIDENT may have a lot to learn about how to squelch controversy, but his restaurant of choice apparently has that lesson down cold.

When McDonald's unveils a major national promotion Tuesday to tie in with the coming summer movie hit, "Jurassic Park," the fast-food chain will offer customers "collectors' cups," "dino-sized sandwiches" and banners proclaiming that Mickey-D's is the "official visitors center of Jurassic Park."

The one tie-in it won't offer is dinosaur toys, which is ironic in that A.) "Happy Meal" toys have become near addictive for children and their long-suffering parents, and B.) everyone and his brother will be selling something for kids tied to the Steven Spielberg movie, based on the best-selling science fiction novel of the same name, which opens June 11.

McDonald's says it simply wanted to target this promotion to its adult clientele -- and, if you believe that, it has a franchise it would like to sell you in Antarctica.

The real reason undoubtedly is that the corporation took immense heat last summer for offering "Batman Returns" toys to children, which led many parents to blithely -- and wrongly -- assume that the dark and violent picture was appropriate for young children. Whether parents feel "Jurassic Park" will be suitable for youngsters, McDonald's clearly didn't want to be saddled with responsibility for those millions of familial decisions.

So the next time President Clinton ducks in for his decaf, these folks can probably give him some advice on anticipating and sidestepping bad press.

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