It isn't easy being a Soviet politician anymore. In the old days you worked your way up through the Communist Party, got elected to office, and before you knew it you were in fat city in Red Square.

But now that a multi-party system seems to be replacing communism, those who devoted themselves to the hammer and sickle are faced with opposition from the likes of Boris Yeltsin and his left-wing counterrevolutionary friends.

To prepare for the future, the Communist Party has hired an American political consultant to advise it on how to win a democratic election in the Soviet Union.

The party die-hards gathered at the dacha of First Communist Secretary Vladimir Bulkasky for a weekend retreat. The U.S. consultant, Richard Thompson, addressed the group. "I've taken a survey of Soviet voters, and 85 percent say they do not understand the difference between the radicals, the progressives and the conservatives. Your job is to help them stay confused."

"Which ones are we?" Chicken Kiev wanted to know.

"You are the party of the Supreme little guy," replied Thompson. "You have to get your story over to the voter that the opposition is a bunch of nerds without any respect for God and Gorbachev."

"God and Gorbachev?" Rude Shlepper said. "The Communist Party doesn't believe in God."

Thompson explained, "Not until now. You have to steal God as a symbol before one of the other parties in the Soviet Union does. Now, among the most important things a political party does is perform dirty tricks. This is where you can learn from American politics. You must accuse the other side of things they wouldn't dream of doing. Who is your most famous prisoner?"

"Kalangin the Degenerate. He was arrested for opening his own discount shopping mall in Yalta last year and putting the Steel Workers Cooperative Bazaar out of business."

"Good. Now your Communist Party candidate must announce that the opposition candidate gave Kalangin the Degenerate a weekend furlough at which time he raped three women and opened two more malls and a five-star Laundromat."

"Will it be true?" Chicken Kiev asked.

Thompson admitted, "It doesn't matter if it's true or not. In America, political parties deny everything, at least until the election is over."

Boris Borscht said, "With the help of the KGB, our politics used to be so much cleaner."

"The reason for that," Thompson explained, "is that you only had one party. Now that you have several, you can no longer be Mr. Good Comrade."

"It's true," agreed Ivan. "We were the good guys. That's the main advantage of having only one party -- you don't have to resort to dirty tricks to win. People voted for you either because they believed in what you stood for or they were afraid of being sent to Siberia. Now we have to get our hands dirty and cheat and lie and steal, which no communist likes to do."

Thompson went on, "This is the part you're not going to like. In a multi-party system of government, you must raise money. If you don't have a war chest, you're dead Reds."

"How do we raise money?" Boris asked.

"You tell everyone that if they donate to the PAC Communist Party campaign they will receive favors that no other government official will give them, including complete deregulation of the savings and loan industry."

"That's bribery," protested Chicken Kiev.

Thompson replied, "No, it isn't. In a democratic society we have many private special interest groups, and if they couldn't give money to their political parties, all the crooks would take over."