John Sununu, sometimes called President Bush's "hit man," may not be on everybody's hit parade, but let the record show that he's hit the 1990 Shorter Men's Best Dressed List.

Bob Stern, the Ohio retail and mail-order clothier, says his fourth annual poll of a top secret selection committee narrowed the field to Sununu and nine others: 5-foot-9 movie heartthrob Tom Cruise, 5-foot-8 TV home handyman Bob Vila, 5-foot-8 novelist Tom Wolfe, 5-foot-7 rock star Billy Joel, 5-foot-7 gymnast/TV analyst Bart Conner, 5-foot-7 Cleveland Mayor Michael White, 5-foot-7 Broadway actor Robert Morse, 5-foot-5 actor Michael J. Fox, and 5-foot-1 actor-director Danny DeVito.

Stern, who topped out Sununu at 5-foot-9 (his friends say it's more like 5-foot-8), says the White House chief of staff exudes that "Power Behind the Prez Look." Despite the mustard-colored suits Sununu has been known to wear, Stern says he is a "power dresser."

"But when it comes to image and camouflaging his rather generous stomach, he never beats around the bush," continues the 5-foot-2 Stern, a former IRS agent who started his own firm when he grew weary of shopping in boys' departments.

Speaking of duds, the Times of London raises the question of whether politicians should be "dressed to kill" when they're jollying up the troops in Saudi Arabia. The Times notes that Secretary of State James Baker wore "designer desert gear: sand-coloured slacks with matching short-sleeved shirt. But no hat and no sunglasses" on a recent drop by. British Defense Secretary Tom King opted for "simple blue slacks and open neck shirt" with a floppy camouflage hat bearing a Desert Rat insignia.

When the congressional leadership accompanied President Bush for Thanksgiving dinner with the troops, there was little doubt that some were old hands at desert chic. House Speaker Thomas Foley wore a khaki suit, Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole wore khaki pants and blue shirt, and House Minority Leader Robert Michel and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell both topped their khakis with plaid shirts.

Then there was Sig Rogich, the dapper White House advance man who, as presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater explained, "kind of made a designer outfit out of his khakis." It was a fashion statement that Fitzwater, in his khaki pants, cowboy boots, Sears Roebuck blue shirt and planter's hat, couldn't be accused of.

National security adviser Brent Scowcroft described his own get-up as "eclectic," right down to what Fitzwater claimed were "Converse high-tops last made in 1932."

Insisted Scowcroft: "They're coming back. Marlin just doesn't appreciate these things."

Nobody has gotten around to making designer gas masks, but anything is possible. Meanwhile, cleanshaven American troops in Saudi Arabia, who know the importance of a tight-fitting mask, have it all over Saudi troops who, for religious reasons, wear beards.

"It's a very delicate matter," Maj. Pat Fogelson, a U.S. Army expert in chemical warfare, told White House reporters accompanying President Bush. "But the Saudis have told us that those {Saudis} who wish to shave their beards may do so."

In a practice session for the reporters to try on the M 17 A-1 protective masks, Cable News Network correspondent Charles Bierbauer was unable to get a satisfactory seal. Fogelson didn't tell him to shave off his beard for his one-day assignment, but for a while Bierbauer wrestled with the to-shave-or-not-to-shave question. If he didn't, would he be making the ultimate sacrifice of dying for his country (or looking at it from another perspective, dying for CNN founder Ted Turner)?

"I'm not going to shave for this story," Bierbauer said. "On the other hand, I'm not going to die for it either."

Quayle watchers who were aghast to discover they let Nov. 18 -- the Quayles' 18th wedding anniversary -- slip by unnoticed need not worry next year. The new "Dan for All Seasons" calendar, published by the Quayle Quarterly of Bridgeport, Conn., takes note of that and other milestones in the lives of the Second Couple, including such basic ones as their birthdays and not-so-basic ones as the birthdays of Quayle's 43 predecessors. As a bonus, each month is highlighted with a memorable Quayle quotation.

The Valentine's Day Month, for instance, features Marilyn Quayle's comment, "I think that obviously I would have not married Dan Quayle had I not thought he was an equal to me," followed by her husband's quote on the subject: "I'm smart enough not to get into a contest about whether I am smarter than my wife or my wife is smarter than me."

With the month of May comes the Quayle view of the vice presidency: "One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is 'to be prepared.' "

December brings with it Quayle's vow that "I'm going to be a vice president very much like George Bush was. He proved to be a very effective vice president, perhaps the most effective we've had in a couple of hundred years."