HI, MY name is Bert Lance."

"And I'm the Sheik of Araby."

"You're just the man I want to talk to. How would you like to lend me $5 million?"

"What on earth for?"

"Well, you see I owe the First National Bank of Chicago a bundle of money, and this bank in Tennessee, and I have to unload my stock in the National Bank of Georgia. If you let me have the loan, I'll be able to take over Financial General Bank in Washington, D.C."

"It sounds good to me. Say, are you the same Bert Lance who is considered the president's best friend?"

"Heck, I hardly know Jimmy. We've howdied a few times but we ain't shook."

"Didn't I read where you go in the back door of the White House once or twice a day?"

"That's just to pick up my mail and have my hair cut. I would never use my connections with the president to put over a bank deal."

"Of course not. But didn't the president give you a diplomatic passport?"

"Yeah, but he gives everyone from Georgia one. Some presidents give out tie clasps; other presidents, cuff links. Jimmy likes to give people diplomatic passports. I gave mine back."

"Why?"

"I didn't want anyone saying I was using my White House connections to buy up banks with Arabs."

"Well, my people are always interested in lending $5 million to Americans, but at the same time it would be nice if I could say you knew the president."

"I couldn't take the loan under those conditions. A man in my position has to stand on his record in the banking business, and not whom he knows in Washington."

"I respect you for that, Mr. Lance. Most people who come to us for money try to impress us with their connections. But you're the first one I've met who refuses to cash in on your former high position in the government."

"LaBelle chides me for that all the time. She says, 'Bert, everybody pretends to know the president intimately for private gain, why don't you?' And you know what I tell her? 'I'm just a poor boy from Georgia, but if I can't put a bank deal together without using Jimmy's name, I'd rather pick peanuts.'"

"Since this deal you're talking about involves a great deal of money, my fellow Sheiks would want some assurance that the U.S. government won't step in and stop it before it gets off the ground."

"Trust me. Check me out. Look what I did in Calhoun. Where would the National Bank of Georgia be right now if it weren't for me? Do you think I don't know how to take over a bank without getting into trouble with the SEC?"

"This bank you're planning to take over, where is it?"

"Just a hop, skip and a jump from the Oval Office."

"That close?"

"It's in walking distance of the Treasury Department, but since I became a private citizen, I never walk there."

"Then we can assume that if we get involved, we won't be embarrassed because everyone thinks you're the president's best friend?"

"Trust me."