"Washington School of Applied Ethics and Morality. Can wehelp you?"

"My son is coming to Washington this summer, and I would like to know if you are giving any courses in hypocrisy, betrayal and sleaze?"

"Yes, we have an excellent curriculum that will lead either to a bachelor's degree in stonewalling or a master's degree in perjury."

"Can you give me some idea of what you're offering?"

"We have a popular class in lying. We hold moot congressional hearings in which the student is challenged to wriggle out of answering any compromising questions."

"How does he do that?"

"By using the Elliott Abrams defense. When asked a question the student is taught to reply something like, 'It probably happened but I don't remember it,' or 'I don't remember it, but if you say it took place I'll accept your word.' "

"Is Abrams the instructor?"

"No, he has nothing to do with the school. But the students look on him as a role model."

"It doesn't surprise me. He's everybody's role model."

"If your son is working in Washington this summer I would advise that he take a seminar in special prosecutors."

"I didn't know you could take a whole seminar in them."

"It's essential if you're going to work for the administration. Let's say, for example, your son, while in Washington, gets involved in a defense factory bribery case. In exchange he receives stock and cash as a reward. As soon as it becomes public what he is up to, he is entitled to his own special prosecutor. We demonstrate how he can face up to a prosecutor while keeping damage for himself to a minimum."

"How is it done?"

"The student asks for immunity and then agrees to rat on all the other people involved with his scheme."

"But isn't that dirty pool?"

"No, dirty pool is another course where government officials learn how to help polluters get around the EPA."

"Since we're talking about morality, do you have any studies in adultery?"

"Your son can take adultery, but he won't get any credit for it."

"What about greed?"

"Greed is required, and you can't graduate without it. We teach that there is nothing wrong with being greedy if it's in your country's best interests."

"My son hopes to work with one of the federal agencies. Is there a lot of sleaze involved with this?"

"It depends on how much work he does for the vested interests. We offer all the standard white-collar crimes. What our students do with them is their business."

"My son wants to know if you teach students how to shred incriminating documents."

"Each student is required to own a paper shredder and burn bag. The burn bag can also be used to carry his lunch."

"You have a fun school."

"We try to make our students good citizens, even if they have to lie to do it. As Ollie North said, 'There is more to government than rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies.' "

"How much more?"

"Come to think of it, not much."

1987, Los Angeles Times Syndicate