At 5 p.m. on a Friday, most of Washington's armies of government workers retreat home to begin the weekend. Not Brent Scowcroft, the former Utahn who is President Bush's national security adviser.

He is just beginning a press interview. Then he plans four or five more hours of work before he finishes his day - which began in the office at 7 a.m. He plans a "light" day Saturday, though, working only 10 hours or so instead of his normal 13 to 15.Sunday is his only day of rest. He just works mornings then.

Scowcroft's story is about time - about how he uses almost all of his to buy a few more precious moments for the president. His story is also about loyalty, sacrifice and a lifelong desire to improve himself and the world.

His work may also show what it takes to be a true servant and brings to mind other famous assistants. The Lone Ranger had Tonto. Captain Kirk had Mr. Spock. And George Bush has Brent Scowcroft.

Actually, Scowcroft's work may more closely parallel what Spock did for Captain Kirk in "Star Trek" than may be first imagined.

Spock always logically outlined - without imposing his own opinions - the options and consequences that Kirk faced as they explored the unknown universe.

As Bush explores foreign policy territory unlocked by new Soviet openness and Middle East developments, Scowcroft is the one who logically and carefully outlines the options he faces. Bush calls him "an honest broker" who does not suggest policy himself, just the options, during their daily briefings.

Scowcroft told the Deseret News, "It's important to get the issues to the president in the right way to save his time - which is far more precious than mine is - so that he understands what the issues are, what the parameters are, in the least amount of time to best make a decision.

"I enjoy it. It's a big challenge. If you work 24 hours a day around the clock, there's more work than you could get done. So you have to pick and choose."

Of course, Scowcroft doesn't work 24 hours a day for seven days a week - just 13 to 15 hours a day, 61/2 days a week.

"I get up about 5:30 a.m. and get here about 7," he said in his office in the White House west wing. "When I go home varies: 8:30 to 10 p.m. A little shorter on Saturday, and usually not much more than Sunday mornings."

He said he doesn't have time for hobbies but that he does jog a bit to stay in shape. He also occasionally tries to get away to Utah to ski, which he has loved ever since he was president of the ski club at Ogden High School as a teenager.

Scowcroft, 64, said he doesn't even think of retiring for a more leisurely lifestyle. "I believe in being active, and using whatever talents one possesses to try to improve things."

He said that comes from his Mormon upbringing where he learned the "the value of hard work, the notion that at the end of the day, you ask yourself if you have made either yourself or the world a little bit better by what you do today."

Adding to his convictions and motivation for hard work, "I believe very deeply in this president and what he's trying to do.

"I think it is an unusual time in history, and he has the opportunity to make a real difference - and I would like to be a part of that. (There's) a lot of change in the old rigid lines of the world of the post-World War II era. They are breaking up. They're not all gone; we have to be cautious. . . .

"It's hard to say whether it (the world) is safer. I think it is more relaxed than it was at earlier periods. It's still a dangerous world, and there are still two high and sophisticated powers facing each other. At least tactically, however, the Soviet Union is interested in a period of stability so that they can focus on their very serious economic problems. And that seems to me that it gives us an opportunity to make progress toward a relationship which is most stable in the long period. . . .

"There are opportunities that were not necessarily open a decade ago."

Scowcroft should know about the changes from a decade ago. After all, he was an Air Force general specializing in foreign affairs who also became President Ford's national security adviser. That, at the time, also made him George Bush's boss when he was chief of the Central Intelligence Agency.

"I guess what is unique about the Bush administration is there are a large number of people who have worked together before. We know each other. We are comfortable with each other. Indeed, in my area, the national security area, the president and I worked together when he was director of the CIA and I was national security advisor."

Scowcroft has assumed a much higher-profile stance in the Bush administration than he did in Ford's. But that isn't necessarily because he wants the limelight.

"In the Ford administration, I was almost in every sense an unknown. And therefore there was not the same kind of pressure to be public. Now I am much better known, and at least in the Washington press corps, a lot of my views that I expressed in private life are known to the press so they want to pursue that."

Also, he was forced to take a higher profile position because of delays in obtaining Senate confirmation for a defense secretary - caused by the rejection of John Tower - and delays in confirmation of Secretary of State James Baker and his top staff.

Scowcroft admits he was a natural spokesman for defense during Tower's problems and won't say directly whether he was interested in becoming defense secretary as was rumored after the Senate rejection of Tower. "I was asked a very specific question (by the press). The question was, `Are you a candidate for secretary of defense.' I said no."

When asked if he wanted it anyway, he smiled and simply said, "I am quite happy where I am."