The thing that I am most bothered about in this presidential campaign is that each of the candidates is in the hands of highly skilled image-makers straight out of show business.

Every word and gesture seems to be programmed by these so-called media specialists whose only interest in politics is to get a sound bite of their man on the evening news.What frightens me is that after the election, these advisers will follow the winner into the White House and continue running his life from there.

"Mr. President, the deficit has just hit the $2-trillionmark."

"Oh, my gosh, what do I do?"

"Well, first you get up from behind your desk, very slowly, and pretend that this happens every day. Then you walk over to the window and look out at the Rose Garden for a couple of beats and finally you turn around, look straight into the camera and say, `Oh nuts.' "

"But $2 trillion. Isn't there any action I can take?"

"You should put on some makeup. The polls indicate that 45 percent of the public thinks your nose is too shiny."

"Mr. President, Mr. President, Noriega has just closed the Panama Canal and wants 25,000 tons of marijuana before he'll open it again."

"That sounds like a serious public relations problem and could hurt my credibility in the South."

"That's true, and we'll get the writers on it immediately. In the meantime, do you have another tie?"

"What's wrong with this one?"

"It doesn't send the right message to Noriega. We want something flashy like the one Ronald Reagan wore the day we bombed Libya."

"Mr. President, this came in from the Treasury Department. In order to avoid going bankrupt, we have to raise taxes."

"What shall I say to the American people? I promised not to raise them."

"We'll damage-control it, sir. We'll have you make the announcement in a corn field in Iowa. We'll slip it in while you're driving a harvester across fields of grain."

"I can do it."

"Mr. President, are you going to meet Gorbachev this afternoon?"

"I think so. Why do you ask?"

"We want you to upstage him by kissing him before he kisses you. The last time, he got all the best camera angles."

"Now, after Gorbachev you have the meeting with the Eagle Scout who will present you with a flag."

"Is it a debate?"

"Not exactly. But we aren't taking any chances. We have a kid from the White House mail room who will play the role of the Eagle Scout during rehearsals. He'll throw every question in the book at you, and you'll pretend it's the real thing."

"I'm not afraid. I am a great debater. That's how I won the election. The trick is to be yourself so that everyone knows you are a real person. Does anybody have any good ad-libs I can use when meet the kid?"