One of the advantages of being president of the United States is that you don't have to support your brother. There are so many other people who are willing to do it for you.

I thought of this the other day when I read that Billy Carter had received more than $220,000 from Col. Qaddafi's Libyan government in what Billy described as part of a $500,000 loan. (It was done with a handshake, which shows you how trusting the Libyans are.)

There were some people in the United States who believed that Qaddafi had given Billy the loan because he was hoping Billy could influence his brother when it came to Arab affairs. But the truth of the matter is that the Libyans have always had a warm spot in their hearts for anyone who owns a gas station in Georgia, and Billy's White House connection was the furthest thing from their minds.

This is how the loan came about. The Libyans, as part of their goodwill policy to encourage Americans to use Libyan petroleum products, decided to hold a contest among independent gasoline station owners in the United States. All the names were put into a giant oil drum at a terrorist training camp outside of Tripoli, and Col. Qaddafi pulled out one, who was selected as the "American Gas Pumper of the Year." Lo and behold, the name he selected was Billy Carter of Plains, Ga.

A call was placed to Billy, and Qaddafi said, "Congratulations, you have just won an all-expense-paid trip to Libya for two. One of our official airplane hijackers will be in touch with you to make the arrangements."

Billy was so excited he couldn't see straight. All his life he had wanted to visit Libya, and in less than a month he was winging his way toward the land of his dreams. As Billy got off the plane, he was presented with four gold bracelets, a silver saddle worth $2,000, a serving platter, a ceremonial sword and a suit of clothes.

Then he was given a grand tour of the country.

Finally he got to meet Qaddafi, who personally thanked him for all Billy had done to push Libyan gasoline products. "If I can ever do anything for you," Qaddafi said, "don't fail to ask."

"Well, I could use a $500,000 loan," Billy said, "to buy a new sign for my gas station."

Kadafi smiled and reached into his pocket. "No sweat," he said, and started to count out the money. "I have only $220,000 with me. We'll send the rest of it to you through one of our assassination squads."

"That's mighty white of you, Colonel. Do you want me to sign anything?"

Qaddafi laughed. "For a lousy $500,000? What kind of people do you think we are?"

As Billy put the money into his pocket he said, "I believe I should tell you something, Colonel. I may be just a good ol' boy gas pumper, but my brother is president of the United States. Do you still want to give me the loan?"

"Of course. We never hold it against anybody what his brother does. If we did, we'd be out of the personal loan business."