TOMMY CHONG made a fortune as a stoner comic, but he doesn't think marijuana is a laughing matter anymore.
These days, he sees pot as the antidote for what ails America.
Chong, 74, thinks that legalizing and taxing weed on a federal level would offer numerous benefits.
"Look at the situation we're in now," Chong said. "Sequesters. Cuts. Everything cut across the board. Now, the government is tapped into the biggest cash crop in the world.
"There's little manufacturing cost. You don't have to do anything except watch it grow and get a couple of hippies to cut it and then put it in a bag."
Chong notes that medical uses for cannabis have already inspired nearly 20 states to decriminalize the drug. Two of them - Colorado and Washington - have totally legalized it. And at least 12 states have pending legislation.
"Hemp itself is going to save the world," Chong said.
Jaden staying at home
Yesterday, Tattle wrote about the wacky London Sun story that Jaden Smith wished to be emancipated when he turns 15.
We thought the story was fishy - why would a kid who lives on an estate with parents who let him do what he wants seek to give that up?
That's basically what Jaden said when he and dad guested on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
"I'm not going anywhere," Jaden said. "The thing that people don't get is, everything at [dad's] house is free. I can get anything and everything at his house, so I'm going to be there for 20, 30 years. He says as soon as I have a movie that's bigger than one of his movies, I can get my own house."
Sun of a preacher man
Singapore opened a long-anticipated corruption trial yesterday of six leaders of City Harvest Church, accused of embezzling more than $40 million . . .
. . . to fund the pop-music career of the wife of their evangelical movement's founder, Kong Hee.
Church faithful packed the gallery to show support for the accused, who prosecutors say diverted the congregation's funds into "sham" investments to advance the singing career of Ho Yeow Sun, now known as Sun Ho.
The church, one of Singapore's biggest, with more than 30,000 members, is known in the region for staging large-scale, elaborate services resembling pop concerts, which are conducted by Kong.
Ho is not on trial but turned up in court dressed in a black leather jacket, skinny pants, stiletto boots and sporting streaky blonde hair.
Hey, if the name fits.
The Sun Ho Six could face prison terms up to 20 years.
The prosecution's opening statement ridiculed the contention of church leaders that pop music was a tool of evangelism that would help spread God's message. It said that Ho recorded secular music for people "who would never choose to step foot into a church to listen to a preacher."
Singapore's media have painted Ho as an aspiring superstar who hoped for international fame to help spread her church's influence. To further that "influence," in 2007 she collaborated with Wyclef Jean (as Sun a/k/a Geisha) on the song "China Wine."
It was accompanied by a raunchy video.
Because when you're spreading the gospel, best to do it in a club with half-dressed Asian women shaking their booties.
Will judge 'fire' Trump?
Donald Trump raised his voice on the witness stand yesterday while an attorney rolled his eyes at Trump's answers, leading a federal judge to order both men to behave.
It was Trump's second day on the stand at a civil trial where he is accused of making false promises to 87-year-old Jacqueline Goldberg to get her to purchase condos at his glitzy Trump International Hotel & Tower, in Chicago.
Questioning yesterday focused on what Trump knew and when regarding the alleged bait-and-switch, in which a profit-sharing plan was promised to Goldberg but withdrawn after she agreed to buy two condos.
Trump, however, portrayed himself as a big-picture guy.
"I don't run hotels - I build them," he said.
With Goldberg sitting nearby, Trump accused her of agreeing to a buyers' contract that gave him rights to cancel the profit-sharing offer as he saw fit. Even though she knew that that clause was there, he said, she went ahead and bought the condos anyway.
"And then she sued me," he boomed, raising his arms. "It's unbelievable!" The judge told jurors to disregard Trump's statement.
Can't everyone just disregard all his statements?
* Music big shots Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre have donated $70 million to the University of Southern California for the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy, which will offer a curriculum aimed to help young innovators.
The hip-hop mogul and the co-founder of Interscope Records appeared at a news conference yesterday alongside USC president C. L. Max Nikias to announce the new program.
Nikias said that the gift was the largest ever from the entertainment industry to American higher education.
"Somebody is going to design the next iPod, the next Facebook, the next breakthrough in how we live," Nikias said. "We want that to happen at the Iovine-Young Academy."
It will accept its first class of 25 students in fall 2014. Full scholarships will be offered.
* The crew of the International Space Station was offered a sneak peak at "Star Trek: Into Darkness" on Monday.
NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries said that the movie was beamed up to the outpost, and the two Russians and one American on board had a day off Tuesday to view it on their laptops. NASA would not confirm if they did.
They had a day off, and they're in space. They didn't go to the mall.
- Daily News wire services contributed to this report.
On Twitter: @DNTattle