Millions of people are going to bed this summer dreaming they are witnesses in the congressional contra hearings. I must confess I am one of them. My fantasy is that I am an admiral, and I'm being grilled viciously by counsel for the Senate.

"Admiral, do you mind putting out that stinking pipe?" the chairman says.

"Objection," my lawyer says.

"Objection overruled. The pipe will become Exhibit A. Continue."

"Admiral, is it correct to say that you started World War III?"

"Yes sir, and I would be happy to declare it again because it is the only legal thing to do."

"Did the president know you were going to start a war?"

"No sir, he did not. The president doesn't like to get involved in details. The buck stops with me on this one."

"Why is that?"

"I had to keep it a secret from the president to give him plausible deniability. If the president didn't know what we were doing he couldn't stop us from doing it. This is not to say that if the president did know he would not support me in what we were doing."

"The White House emphatically says that Mr. Reagan did not know about World War III and if he did know he would have opposed you starting it."

"He had to say that to give him plausible deniability."

"Admiral, you just set the ceiling on fire with your pipe lighter."

"Objection, counsel is leading the witness."

"Sustained. Whether the admiral set fire to the ceiling of the hearing room is not germane to these proceedings."

"Did the president receive 196 findings outlining the plan?"

"No, they were all burned in my pipe before they got to him."

"What about Colonel North?"

"He was terrific. He knew everything that was going on and did whatever was asked of him. I never saw anyone so happy to follow his superior up the hill and down again. Ollie was there when you needed him and, more important, when you didn't need him. The man could lie and shred at the same time."

"Now, admiral, will you tell us about the money that was raised for the war by selling arms to Country Number 6?"

"We had to sell arms to Country Number 6 to get funds to fight Country Number 23. The arms cost $14 million and our profit was $140 million. It was the only money we had to finance the start of World War III except what we got from Brunei."

"Would you please tell me where you got your authority to start a war?"

"Our lawyer, who just passed his bar exam in Fiji, ruled that what we did was legal."

"But you were creating a government within a government. Admiral, aren't you ashamed of yourself?"

"I'm willing to fall on my spear but no matter what our people up here say, I will always maintain that starting World War III was a peachy idea."

"That's not for you to decide. It's a presidential decision."

"Sir, if I had to bother the president about every little war the United States is going to get involved in, Mr. Reagan would not get any sleep."

It is at this moment that I wake up in a cold sweat because I imagine Ollie North has shredded my pajamas.

1987, Los Angeles Times Syndicate