I thought I had the next presidential election figured out when Warren Beatty suddenly made noises that he plans to run for office.

This put me on the spot because I happen to be a personal friend of Warren, and defending his lifestyle can be a full-time job.

I can assure you that Warren has never used cocaine, though I've seen him attack a bowl of guacamole at a party like it was whipped cream.

The big question the reporters will ask, because you can't trust any of them, is: What about the women Warren Beatty has been associated with over the last millennium?

I can promise you that they're all friends, nothing but friends. Warren has never had anything to do with women other than to appear at an occasional NOW benefit. His opponents have accused him of watching female mud wrestlers in Hamburg. That is exactly what his opponents would do. This is, of course, a smear, and Warren will straighten everyone out when he starts campaigning in Iowa.

I have been on double dates with Warren, and I have never known anyone who is more polite or understanding when it comes to both sexes.

This is not to say women are not attracted to him. We were once in a Dunkin' Donuts parking lot, and a woman came up to him and said, "Warren, I love you."

And Warren replied, "Everyone loves me. Please don't take my windshield wiper."

While most presidential candidates refuse to answer personal questions, I am certain Warren will answer anything he is asked because he feels if you are going to be president the public should know whether you fooled around on a movie set.

What everyone wants to know is not what kind of lover Warren was in the past, but what kind of president he will be in the future.

Warren claims to be liberal and is concerned with the little folk. He is better recognized than Al Gore, Bill Bradley and George W. Bush. He also happens to be the only candidate with screen credits. His fans will always remember him for "Bonnie and Clyde." This is why he feels he is the only candidate who can straighten out the banks in America.

Another reason Beatty thinks he can win is that Hollywood hasn't had its own president since Ronald Reagan. The country deserves another matinee idol.

The main reason I believe Beatty has a chance is that he has charisma. Also, he can get on all the TV shows. Barbara Walters would kill to get him on. Diane Sawyer will turn over all of "Good Morning America" to him. And this would bring Katie Couric into the fray.

The country needs at least one presidential candidate who will keep the voters from going to sleep. Warren is our man.

He is a movie star who should be allowed to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom. If not he, then who?

{copy} 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate