The reason President Carter has been staying in the White House is to take care of the Rose Garden. The Rose Garden, as everyone knows, is in bad shape, and until he's able to rectify this, Carter has no plans of campaigning for the presidency.

The other day, the White House landscaper presented the president with a resolution for the Rose Garden. Carter looked it over and said, "It looks all right to me, except take out all references to dandelions.

The president thought he had the problem solved and went off to Camp David for the weekend.

While he was away, the landscaper told the gardener to replace all the roses with dandelions. The gardener argued that this might be a mistake, but the landscaper said that was what the president wanted. The gardener was also instructed to say, if anyone asked him, that although they were replacing the roses, this did not mean the White House was changing its rose policy.

Well, when President Carter returned from Camp David and saw all the rosebushes gone and dandelions in their place, he was absolutely furious and demanded to see the landscaper immediately.

"What did you do to the Rose Garden?" he demanded.

"You told me you wanted dandelions instead," the landscaper said.

"I did not. I told you to take out all the dandelions and, if the gardener would not do it, to leave the Rose Garden as it was."

"I'm sorry, sir. It must have been a foul-up. I thought you said you wanted dandelions."

"Do you realize what this will do to me politically?" the president said. "The rose growers all over America will be furious. Is it too late to tear the dandelions out?"

"We can't do that, sir. The dandelion lovers will say you bowed to the pressure of the rose lobby."

In the meantime, Teddy Kennedy got word of the Rose Garden fiasco and, in a major address to the Men's Auxiliary of the Garden Clubs of America, denounced the Carter backyard blooper.

All the Republican candidates said they were appalled.

Carter met with Vice President Mondale and Robert Strauss to discuss the political implications of the disaster.

Both men reported that the heat was on, and rose supporters all over the country were angrily calling the White House. Strauss thought the blunder could cost Carter New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Mondale said even Minnesota rose growers were up in arms.

The president decided there was only one thing to do. And that was to issue a statement saying that he had made a mistake, and due to a communications problem between himself and the landscape department, all the rosesbushes had been torn up.

The explanation was issued but did not placate anyone. The rose growers couldn't believe that Carter hadn't deliberately changed his policy on the roses, and the dandelion lovers said he had changed his mind for political expediency.

What depressed the president the most was that no one gave him any credit for his candor.