The Centers for Disease Control have just announced a new health hazard. It is called "A-Meesia," known in medical circles as "Attorney General's Disease."

Dr. Covey Extra, who discovered it, said A-Meesia has reached epidemic proportions in the Justice Department and has even infiltrated the Cabinet in the White House.

"What are the symptoms?" I asked Dr. Extra.

"Loss of memory is the main one. The person is unable to remember any details when testifying in regard to crimes involving himself or his friends."

"He goes blank?"

"Completely, particularly when it has something to do with the law. At these times he can't distinguish right from wrong."

"Are you sure this is a new disease?"

"I'm quite certain. I had an attorney general in the other day and I asked him to read a memo on the Iraqi pipeline. He couldn't do it. Then I handed him a paper concerning Wedtech and he said, 'I never saw this before.' "

"What was wrong with that?" I asked.

"He had read it out loud in my waiting room an hour before. It was a textbook case of A-Meesia. The man had lost all recollection of who and what he had been involved with in the last seven years."

"It sounds like there is a pattern to the illness."

"If you lose your memory once, it is not serious. But when you continually lose it in public, then you are sick."

"Can you contract A-Meesia from other people?"

"That's the easiest way to get it. My patient confessed to me he was constantly having financial relations with his friends."

"Where have you witnessed the most cases of A-Meesia?"

"I saw a lot of it during the Irangate hearings. So many people were losing their memories we had to set up a MASH unit outside the Senate hearing room."

"Is there a cure?"

"Some people in the administration have been taking an aspirin every other day. But it hasn't stopped them from forgetting everything."

"Suppose," I said, "A-Meesia is psychosomatic and people are pretending they have lost their memories so they won't be indicted by a grand jury?"

"We thought of that, but rejected it. A-Meesia is a real disease and has to be dealt with as such. That's why we're doing a lot of work with rats. If we can find out why white rats forget, then we may discover why government lawyers do the same thing."

"Do you have any leads?"

"We suspect it might be the asbestos in the attorney general's ceiling. But then again he might have caught A-Meesia when he was working as counselor to the president. We don't have much to work with. But we have to find an answer. There is nothing so sad as seeing an attorney general on the witness stand who doesn't know what time it is."

"I'm sure you'll find a medical solution."

"Maybe, maybe not. I just received this specimen bottle back from the Justice Department lab."

"Whose is it?"

"Nobody over there can remember."