I know what's bothering you, as a concerned American. What's bothering you is that it's 1991 already, and NOBODY IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. It's eerie. At this time four years ago, Iowa was already infested with presidential timbers such as Bruce Babbitt and Pierre S. "Pete" du Pont IV Esquire Inc. The average Iowa farmer could not take a step without bumping into several leading presidential contenders demonstrating their concern for agriculture by lifting small pigs. And yet today, four years later, nobody is actively campaigning out there. (Not that the pigs are complaining.)

Of course George Bush has been busy, what with the Persian Gulf, the economy, bonefishing, etc. And there is speculation about Mario Cuomo running. But there has ALWAYS been speculation about Mario Cuomo running. A large portion of the Rosetta stone is devoted to ancient Egyptian speculation about Mario Cuomo running. You also hear talk about Sen. Albert Gore, but the U.S. Constitution clearly states in Article III, Section 4, Row 8, Seat 5, that the president cannot be somebody named "Albert.""Arnold, maybe," states the Constitution. "But not Albert."

Another possible candidate, Sen. Bill Bradley, possesses the one quality that thoughtful American voters value above all in a leader: height. Unfortunately, Sen. Bradley also has, with all due respect, the charisma of gravel. Hospitals routinely use tapes of his speeches to sedate patients for surgery. Rep. "Dick" Gephardt has no eyebrows and is, in the words of a recent New York Times editorial, "probably an alien being."

Clearly, the nation has a Leadership Vacuum. Well, where I come from, we have a saying: "If you're not going to grab the bull by the horns while the iron is in the fire, then get off the pot." (There are a lot of chemicals in the water where I come from.) And that is why I am announcing today that I am running for president of the United States.

(Wild sustained applause.)

Thank you. But before I accept your support and your large cash contributions, I want you to know where I stand on the issues. Basically, as I see it, there are two major issues facing this nation: Domestic and Foreign. Following are my positions on these issues as of 9:30 this morning.

DOMESTIC AFFAIRS: I would eliminate all giant federal departments - Transportation, Commerce, Interior, Exterior, etc. - and replace them with a single entity, called the Department of Louise. This would consist of a woman named Louise, selected on the basis of being a regular taxpaying individual with children and occasional car trouble and zero experience in government. The Department of Louise would have total veto power over everything. Before government officials could spend any money, they'd have to explain the reason to Louise and get her approval.

"Louise," they'd say, "we want to take several billion dollars away from the taxpayers and build a giant contraption in Texas so we can cause tiny invisible particles to whiz around and smash into each other and break into even TINIER particles."

And Louise would say: "No."

Or the officials would say: "Louise, we want to use a half-million taxpayer dollars to restore the childhood home of Lawrence Welk."

And Louise would say: "No."

Or the officials would say: "Louise, we'd like to give the Syrians a couple million dollars to reward them for going almost a week without harboring a terrorist."

And Louise would say: "No."

Or the officials might say: "Louise, we want to . . . ."

And Louise would say: "No."

All these decisions would have to be made before 5:30 p.m., because Louise would be very strict about picking her kids up from day care.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: These would be handled via another new entity called The Department of A Couple of Guys Named Victor. The idea here would be to prevent situations such as the Panama invasion, where we send in the Army to get Manuel Noriega, and a whole lot of innocent people get hurt, but NOT Manuel Noriega. HE gets lawyers and fax machines and a Fair Trial that will probably not take place during the current century.

The Department of A Couple of Guys Named Victor would not handle things this way. I'd just tell them, "Victors, I have this feeling that something unfortunate might happen to Manuel Noriega, you know what I mean?" And, mysteriously, something would.

Or, instead of sending hundreds of thousands of our people to fight hundreds of thousands of Iraqis all because of one scuzzball, I'd say: "Victors, it would not depress me to hear that Saddam Hussein had some kind of unfortunately fatal accident in the shower."

I realize there will be critics of this program. "What if he doesn't take showers?" they will say. But these are mere technical details. The important thing is that I have a platform, and next week I'm going to Iowa - well, technically I'll be flying OVER Iowa - as the first declared candidate, and if you want to get on the bandwagon, now is the time, because there is a lot of important work to be done, such as selecting the band for the Victory Party. Right now I am leaning toward Little Richard.

Also, I need to locate a small pig.