Washington is really, when you come down to it, a city of cocker spaniels. People are much more interested in being petted and loved than in the real exercise of power. --Elliot Richardson in the WETA television program "The Power and the Glory"

It was a breakfast gathering of the out-of-power. But not the down-and-out. Cabinet secretaries and advisers to presidents they once were. Now, most are high-paid lawyers. And they had no doubt been to lots of breakfasts like the one yesterday, only those of the past were held at the White House and called by presidents. Yesterday's breakfast was held at the Ramada Renaissance and called by WETA-TV to premiere "The Power and the Glory," a half-hour documentary focusing on several prominent people who had power and then lost it. It airs here Thursday, July 22, at 8:30 p.m.

"Are we here to find out about power in Washington?" Elliot Richardson, who has held four Cabinet positions at various times, asked as he greeted Robert Strauss, former White House adviser to Jimmy Carter.

"Well, not from me," Strauss deadpanned.

Only three of the six people featured in the program came to the breakfast--besides Strauss and Richardson, there was Stuart Eizenstat, once Carter's chief domestic policy adviser. The others profiled were former senator and secretary of state Edmund Muskie, former Reagan adviser Lyn Nofziger and attorney Clark Clifford--secretary of defense under Lyndon Johnson, White House adviser to Truman and Kennedy, and the man who represented Bert Lance before a Senate committee.

Most of the other guests at breakfast were those who chronicle the rise and fall of the powerful--the media.

Power is the ability to use the press . . .

Strauss' words in the program produced guffaws in the room. "Couldn't you have used another word--like 'massage'?" called one guest across the room. And then from Strauss on the television screen:

I don't miss the parties, I don't miss the attention, I don't miss the tinsel. I guess what I miss the most is when there's really an issue you care about and you don't have the ability to get that podium and use the press that I mentioned earlier . . .

"You've got to find another verb," commented one person to Strauss amid more laughter.

One way you can tell who your friends are is whether they still send invitations to come over to their houses for dinner or brunch; 90 percent of them don't . . . --Stuart Eizenstat

Only one out-of-power person turned down producer Ricki Green's request for an interview. "Henry Kissinger," she said. "He was just too busy."

(Elliot Richardson:) I'm not itching to get back.

(Interviewer:) What if the right opportunity came along?

(Richardson with a smile:) Well, if we narrowed down the right opportunity . . .