I was watching the "Today" show the other morning when they brought on a spokesman for the California Prune Board. I can't help it, the mere mention of "prunes" gets me giggling:

Prunes, prunes, the magic fruit.

The more you eat, the more you toot.

Clearly, I'm not the only one who associates prunes with this immortal piece of poetry, because Prune Boy went on to explain that the California Prune Board wants to change the name "prunes."

(To what, "baked beans"?)

Prune Boy said the name they want is: "dried plums."

Well, okay, in the sense that raisins are dried grapes and at this point Katharine Hepburn is dried Meryl Streep. But prunes are prunes. That's how we've known them for 100 years. That's why people say, "Hey, Sol, gimme a prune Danish." Not, "Caroline, might I have a dried plum brioche."

Obviously, the California Prune Board (and what an honor it must be to serve, what a plum of an assignment, baddaboom!) thinks there's a stigma attached to "prunes." There's market research that says: "Women in their thirties and forties respond more favorably to the name 'dried plums.' "

Prune Boy said that "filberts," a dopey name, do much better when marketed as "hazelnuts," and "Chinese gooseberries" are doing much better as "kiwi fruits" (which amazes me, because, hey, it's still a hairy little brown ball that looks like monkey poop).

But his point is that names do make a difference.

That's why I changed mine to Anthony Irwin Kornheiser.

You changed your name TO Anthony Irwin Kornheiser? What was it before?

The Duchess of Windsor.

So I can see total loser vegetables like wax beans and cream corn changing names to appeal to younger, hipper people. Cream corn looks like squirrel puke! Wax beans have as much appeal as a nice bowl of boiled suppositories. I would start calling wax beans "imported Belgian chocolate" immediately.

And the "Early Show" on CBS. Man, does that take gas. Lose her, keep him, and change the name to something that would really pump the numbers, like "Fat Chicks Explode, With Bryant Gumbel."

Think how history would have been changed if Joseph Stalin woke up one day and said, "You know, this isn't working out. I'm going to call myself . . . Eddie Bauer."

It's this column that isn't working, Tony. Got anything else?

Did you see the Springer show the day they had on "midget members of the KKK"? They're a tiny minority, I grant you. But think of the money they save on linen. They don't need sheets, only pillowcases! . . . Hey, I got a million of them.

How 'bout Al Gore, huh? You see the tan on that guy? What, is he bathing in a vat of carrot juice? You can't get a tan like that campaigning in New Hampshire. Bill Bradley is so pasty he looks like he actually lives in New Hampshire--under a rock. Oh, and Bill, sweetheart, do something about your neck before someone writes "Goodyear" on it.

Speaking of New Hampshire, the polls there indicate Bradley and John McCain have a gender gap. They're running way ahead of Gore and Bush among men, but they're far behind them with women.

This isn't where they want to be, because the last guy with that kind of demographic was Bob Dole. Apparently, male support did nothing to help his polls stay up. (Note to desk: Can I use "stay up" in the same sentence with "Dole"?)

If Bradley and McCain want to win, they are going to have to learn to appeal to women.

Here's where I can help. Women love me. (Just the other day at my health club a woman looked me over and purred, "What's your sign, 'Billions and Billions Served'?")

Women really like a man who is a good listener. Okay, no man actually listens to a woman for more than 10 seconds before completely tuning her out and thinking about food, sex or sports. But Bradley and McCain need to know how to pretend to listen successfully, a secret I will now reveal in the interest of maintaining a vigorous democracy: Watch a woman's lips. While they are moving, keep still. When they stop, wait a full second before saying, "How about getting me a beer?"

Bradley's NBA career that so impresses men only makes women feel alienated. He needs to find ways to make himself seem sympathetic. Bradley should immediately begin finding ways to show women he's "one of them." He could find a way, perhaps in a debate rebuttal on health-care reform, to drop statements like "I make my own clothes." Because the way they hang on him, women will believe it.

Women are scared of McCain's fiery temper. So ex-POW McCain needs to assure them that he's a calm man. He should show women his gentle side at campaign stops by asking, "Would you care to share an International Coffee moment, say, Swiss Mocha, with a tasty, low-fat lemon wafer?"

Both candidates have a reputation for candor, but not the kind of personal warmth women respond to. Bradley and McCain need to learn to compliment women, preferably in ways that do not include the phrase "are those real?" Perhaps something like: "Oh! Your shoes make your ankles look so tapered! Did you get them on sale?"

Women also like men who share their emotional experiences. Bradley and McCain should find opportunities to mention how often they've seen "Steel Magnolias," and how they just weep watching "Titanic" when Leonardo DiCaprio sinks and Kate Winslet vows, "I'll never let go."

We already know what appeals to women in their thirties and forties.

Dried plums.