President Bush spent a long, hard week just before the elections campaigning for the Republican candidates.

Now he was in his helicopter with the White House chief of staff, John Sununu.

"Where are we, John?" the president asked, peering out the window.

Sununu said, "We're inside the Beltway, Mr. President."

"Oh, my God. How did we get there?"

"The White House is inside the Beltway, sir. We're going home."

"But there are terrible people inside the Beltway -- liberals, abortionists and pundits. I don't want to be anyplace where the citizens do nothing but tax and spend, tax and spend."

"You're right, Mr. President. But we can't get you home without crossing the Beltway markers. Why don't you close your eyes as we fly over the National Press Building?"

"Whose idea was it to take this chopper inside the Beltway?"

"No one's. The White House is down there. If you want to sleep in your own bed tonight, you must stop worrying about all those folks who are trying to ram an equal rights bill down your throat."

"Everybody knows that I hate Washington, and I would prefer to spend my time with real Americans in Iowa."

"I understand, sir, but the campaign is over now and it doesn't matter if you run the country from the Okefenokee Swamp. We have to go inside the Beltway because that's where the Rose Garden is."

"I don't understand why you are so insistent."

"Because I need clean socks and fresh underwear, Mr. President. No matter what you think of South Dakota, the only place where you are going to get someone to do your laundry right is here in Washington."

"What's that building down there that's all lit up?"

"That's the Capitol, sir."

"Is that within the Beltway too?"

"Yes, and it's filled with Democrats."

"Maybe if we located it beyond the Beltway, we could get our own people inside."

"I don't think that we have the votes to do it. I believe that we should land on the White House lawn and forget that we are part of a highway system we never made. The Beltway system belongs to all Americans, whether they are rich or well-to-do."

"I wonder if Barbara knows that she's living inside the Beltway?"

"Not only does she know it -- so does the dog, Millie."

"How can the dog know?"

"Barbara had to buy her a D.C. dog tag."

"What I like about living in Maine is that there are no beltways."

"Or left-wingers -- or a do-nothing Congress that is screwing up your programs."

"If it weren't for the Beltway, I could drive my golf cart all the way to Camp David."

"We're going down, Mr. President."

"In the helicopter?"

"No, sir. In the polls."