It seems that every time I pick up the newspaper or turn on the TV, Bob Dole is discussing erectile dysfunction. What he is really talking about is Viagra, since the Pfizer drug company is paying for the ads.

According to Dole, ED is a far bigger problem in the United States than anyone thinks, and all he is providing is a public service to those who suffer from it.

When I first saw the ads the thought occurred to me--if Bob Dole had been elected president, would he have gone public with his condition?

Could Americans deal with a leader in the White House who admitted to ED? Second, if he did not admit it, but the press found out, would they have a right to print it?

Obviously ED is a private matter, but if Dole hadn't decided to come out of the closet after he lost the election, we couldn't be faulted for revealing it. ED could affect the security of our nation as well as the role of inflation and, of course, gun control.

What also has gone through my mind is how Elizabeth Dole handles all this. We know the senator's ED is paying the rent, but since Mrs. Dole is hard at work campaigning on other issues, Bob Dole's victory over ED could present problems in the bedroom.

"Bob, don't you dare go into that medicine cabinet."

"I was just looking for the Advil."

"A likely story. Viagra may be the solution to your problems, but it's complicating mine."

"Don't knock it. The fact that I am spokesman for ED sews up the senior citizen vote, which is a big plus for your campaign."

"It's a great cushion, but I'd rather have the sleep."

There is no doubt that politics makes strange bedfellows. No one dreamed when Bob Dole was running for office that he would take on a mission even more important for the future of mankind.

How do women feel about Dole solving the ED problem?

Don't ask.

But as we enter the 21st century, people may decide the invention of Viagra was more important than the light bulb.

The next question is, if men solve their E.D. problems, will women be willing to have children in their sixties and seventies?

I hope so, because if they balk, the act of men taking Viagra will just be a waste of time.

There is a great deal of speculation as to whether President Clinton will get Dole's job once Clinton retires from office.

Insiders at Pfizer told me that when they asked the president if he was interested, his only response was, "You have to be kidding!"

(C) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate