There have been thousand of stories about why people hate Americans (789,543 to be exact), but only five as to why the world likes Americans.

I would like to have a shot, though I'm not sure I can fill an entire column.

People like Americans because we have more fat-free food than any country in the world. Not only that, but we also put more vitamins in breakfast cereal and cat and dog food than any civilized nation.

We are admired for our willingness to call a spade a spade, and five diamonds a flush, and also for our skill at playing gin.

That is not to say that we are not loved for our powerful weapons. We know President Bush would never use them unless . . .

The world trusts President Bush because it trusts his foreign policy and he believes in God. Half the people on Earth believe in another God, but they are either infidels or Bush haters.

The White House is the place where things happen. The heads of state visit it to discuss all the problems that beset them. Before leaving, they hope the president will give them a goody bag filled with F-16 fighter planes and ground-to-air missiles.

Why does everyone love Americans? It's because they all love Washington. It is the home of a true democracy, where legislators may angrily debate each other, but at the end of the day they filibuster so they can debate some more the next day.

The American system is so admired because it is concerned with the little people, the poor people, the sick people, the homeless people and, of course, the rich people.

Congress passes laws to help the country become better than it was -- if that's possible. It will listen to everybody, but at the end of the day, its members will vote their consciences -- and whoever promises to give them the most money for their next reelection campaign.

One of the things we are number one in is guns. Most countries have strict laws about who can own a gun and who can't. But in the United States, almost anyone can go into a gun shop or attend a gun show and purchase the weapon of his or her dreams.

People love us because we provide them with Diet Pepsi or Coca-Cola, 7-Eleven Stores, Wal-Mart and yellow MacDonald's arches to remind them we're the fast food nation of the world.

American youth are admired for their taste in clothes -- washed-out jeans, revealing tank shirts and Nike sneakers (which all come from China, but the kids here are the trendsetters).

The same is true for music. No country gives better rock concerts or has better country music than the United States. What makes us even more beloved is we're the entertainment capital of the universe. The world awaits Hollywood's next blockbuster film -- the scarier the better.

Foreigners can have our television shows, our DVDs, our iPods, our cartoons and our "Desperate Housewives." America is willing to share the things that make us happy.

We're held in high esteem for so many reasons. Our dollar is still sought after. Our baseball players all get a living wage, and our leading businessmen get golden parachutes.

These are only a few of the reasons the flag of red, white and blue is admired and beloved from Samara to Timbuktu.

The key word that you will see on every sign all over the United States is "FREE." It is the reason everyone here is proud to be an American.

(c) 2005, Tribune Media Services