Perle Mesta, the Hostess With the Mostest, deserves a stamp of approval, not just a lick and a promise, which so far is all the Post Office's Citizens Advisory Stamp Committee has been willing to give her.

The committee meets again in March, and Mesta's on the agenda, after being passed over twice already.

Somebody should send them a case of Mesta's favorite pink champagne and french-fried parsley to cheer on their deliberations. Or perhaps lend them, for background music, Ethel Merman's greatest hits from her Broadway production of "Call Me Madam," the musical based on Mesta's life. Or maybe a personal appearance by Shirley Booth doing a chorus from the "Playhouse 90" TV show about Mesta would do the trick.

Some might say that it isn't enough being a Madame Minister to Luxembourg; a heavy contributor to women's rights, both political parties and party parties; and plump and pleasant and dedicated to cheering us all up.

The rest of us -- the backers of a Perle Mesta stamp -- retort (preferably with a Big Band backup): that though she died in 1975, Mesta still lives on more than a scratchy 78 rpm record or a fading video, or a cashed campaign check. Among the rest of us are: past presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon; former House speaker Carl Albert; movie actress Ginger Rogers; former protocol chief Leonore Annenberg; Washington publicist Robert Keith Gray; Washington author Hope Ridings Miller; Mesta's former social secretary Sophie Fleischer; and (here's an encouraging note) former postmasters general William E. Bolger and Marvin Watson.

Ben K. West, chairman of the Friends of Perle Mesta, says that if the postmaster "really wanted to, he could approve a stamp himself." And so, West said (obliquely, so as not to suggest a conflict of interest) he was much cheered when Preston Robert Tisch was named postmaster general Aug. 6, 1986. Tisch, once a Perle committeeman, contributed to a book of Perles of wisdom about the great lady for the Advisory Citizens Stamp Committee. Tisch wrote that he'd "had the pleasure of making her acquaintance and being in her company on many occasions."

Admittedly that doesn't sound like enough glue to hold a stamp on a letter. The other comments, though, provide a blueprint of how to become a Washington hostess, a friend of presidents, an envoy extraordinary and, as the Oklahoma Kiowa Indians titled her: "Toydam Ti Toyah Mah." Miller translates it as "Woman Ambassador of Good Will Over the World."

If you think immediately of money, you're right. As her niece, Betty Tyson Ellis, put it, Mesta "was born with a whole silver service in her mouth." The daughter of an Oklahoma hotel and oil millionaire, she married George Mesta of the Mesta Machine Co. of Pittsburgh. Hope Miller says: "Mesta's donation of $100,000 to {Calvin} Coolidge's campaign for the presidency paved the way for the Mestas' entree to the White House." ($100,000 bought more then.)

George Mesta died in 1925, and his widow took up a double life. During the day, she was a steel magnate and made lots of money; at night she spent it giving parties. Oddly enough, for a party girl, she was a faithful Christian Scientist and neither smoked nor drank.

Mesta received her appointment as minister (Luxembourg didn't rate an ambassador then), says Miller, after she "raised an enormous amount of money for Truman's 1948 campaign."

Even though she was a major contributor, it was not automatic back then that a contribution bought an envoy extraordinary appointment, as former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in her "My Day" syndicated column:

"Now and then a President is allowed to recognize a friendship. He cannot do it too often, but there is not much criticism if a frankly personal appointment comes along occasionally.

"I shrugged and smiled a little as I wondered whether all the people of tiny Luxembourg could not be entertained in one week, and then what would be left to interest our Madame Minister?"

Roosevelt said that Mesta managed by importing people to entertain -- she invited to the embassy every American who came over the border. Roosevelt, a serious woman herself, was won over when she realized that Mesta and the Luxembourg ruler Grand Duchess Charlotte in secret (so their reputation as frivolous women wouldn't be ruined) talked seriously about iron mines and steel factories.

The post office has given us Love stamps to put on letters to lovers, edifice stamps for American Institute of Architect members, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. stamps for late late show fans and innumerable presidential stamps for politicians. So let's have Perle Mesta stamps for hostesses to stick on invitation envelopes, and for millionaires who hope to be ambassadors to stick on their campaign contributions