Here are some of the questions I am being asked as I travel around the country this week:

Can the president declare that the country is in a recession?No. Under the Constitution only Congress can do that.

What can the president declare?

He can declare an economic downturn.

Can the president place blame for the economic downturn on the Democrats?

Yes. Under the law he has 90 days to do this. If he doesn't, the country goes into a recession automatically.

At what stage of a recession may a president declare an economic downturn?

When all the economic indicators are falling and his popularity is dropping in the polls. Then, by decree, he must go on television and tell the American people that his administration had nothing to do with the slump, which was caused by 50 years of reckless Democratic spending and high taxes.

Can the president mention the word "unemployment" in his State of the Union address?

He can, but he would be crazy if he did. He'd be much better off referring to unemployment as an unexpected blip in the GNP screen, which was triggered by a bad rice crop in Mongolia.

What does the president do when he declares an economic downturn?

He calls up all his economists and issues them gas masks.

Is he supposed to take any action to stimulate the economy?

That's what a president is for. He promises the country that the recession will disappear as soon as rich people get tax breaks and start buying houses in Palm Springs again.

What is the danger of Congress being the only one to lawfully declare a recession?

The big danger is that whenever Congress votes an important measure such as a recession, it tacks on many pork barrel amendments that have nothing to do with the crash. These include bailouts for S&L bankers, pollution relief for special interest groups and appropriations for new military weapons that don't work.

Should the president consult with Congress on the economic downturn?

It helps because if he stays mum about the downturn, they will refuse to help him get out of his doldrums. When it comes to assigning blame, it is very difficult for the president and the Hill to have a meeting of the minds. This is because there is enough to go around for everybody.

When does a recession become a depression?

When you can no longer read President Bush's lips.