He is asked how much truth there was in the stories that came out last year about him and Caron. "Some truth." He is looking out of the window of the plane. His tie is off, two buttons of the shirt undone. Around his neck is a gold chain. One leg is spraddled across the other. He is drinking his second Bloody Mary and playing with the swizzle stick."We were - we are - trying to work things out. And you keep reading about yourself every morning."

The family business did need taking care of in Plains last fall. "But I could feel something changing inside. It was scary. I went back to Plains because those people have a way of straightening you out." This is said softly, sincerely.

He and his wife and the baby live in htree rooms on the third floor of the White House. "It's quiet up there. You can get lost." Tonight, when he gets back, there will be Disney movies for the kid, then dinner. "We have movies a couple of times a week. I have some friends in." Tonight, he expects, he'll turn in about 10. Even though it's Saturday. "I can't exactly take a walk around the block." A wry smile.

Rock music is still a god. But country has come on for him, too. "I turned Dad on to Dylan, he turned me on to Willie Nelson."

Does his father ever seek his advice at the dinner table?" We're exactly the opposite: Dad never gives me it to him, and he seldom asks for it."

He as a joke. "After Camp David I was talking to a group of priests. I said, "Fathers, we both get paid for being our father's sons'."

The plane banks down the Potomac, shearing through the last of afternoon red. It seems to hang for an instant over the Jefferson Memorial.

"I enjoy what I'm doing." Chip Carter says, almost to himself. "No one has made me go out and campaign for these people. I'm doing it because I want to. If I can help Bob Graham and learn something in the process, then I say fine."

But doesn't he ever wish he were just a private citizen, able to get of this plane without a special car and men with wires in their ears waiting for him?

"Yes, but I'm willing to sacrific for the cause of good government." He can't quite get it all out: He has collapsed in laughter.