"Good evening, folks. This is Roger Dodger coming to you live from the all-talk station WOLF. Tonight we're going to discuss lying in the government -- who lies, when it's best to lie and how far up the ladder you have to be before you don't tell the truth at all. So if you have any ideas about lying call 555-2000 and let us hear your opinion."

"Hello, Roger, this is Conchita. I watched the Iran-contra hearings and I don't see any reason why you can't lie in front of a congressional committee if it means saving the world from communism and getting arms to the Iranians and making a few million bucks for General Secord and Albert Hakim on the side."

"Fine, Conchita. But do you think everyone should be permitted to lie or just people in high government service?"

"I believe anyone who works for the president should be allowed to lie. Like Ollie North. He's a perfect example of someone who doesn't have to tell the truth because he is protecting his commander in chief and giving his president plausible deniability."

"Right, Conchita, but should Ollie be permitted to lie to Congress?"

"I would hope so. That's what the people who work for the president do best."

"Thanks, Conchita. Now for the next call."

"Hi, Roger, Wilfred Deterring here. Roger, I don't think everyone in the White House should have carte blanche to lie. It's okay for Admiral Poindexter to lie so the president doesn't know what he was doing. But the uniformed guards in front of the White House should not be authorized to lie, unless they file a presidential finding."

"Okay, Wilfred. Now the big question -- should Bill Casey of the CIA be permitted to lie?"

"It's all right to tell a fib if he's dead. But if he's alive he should take an oath like everybody else."

"We have time for one more call. Hello, you're on the line."

"This is Tom from Wuthering Heights. Hey, Roger, I think the only one who should be allowed to lie in the government is the president."

"Why do you say that?"

"The president has to lie so the Russians don't know what he's doing."

"Suppose he lies about something that has nothing to do with the Kremlin?"

"Then he's lying to protect the hostages. Nobody has a better excuse to play with the truth than the country's leader. There is something presidential about it when he does it, and something very tawdry when his staff does it for him."

"Is there a difference between the president being lied to and being told nothing?"

"Yes, a president who is told nothing by his staff has the trust of all the people because it can be said he didn't know anything. An informed president who knows everything that is going on has the trust of the people because he lies to protect the country from a thieving, leaking Congress that doesn't have the slightest idea what it takes to run a foolproof covert operation."