Here he is, chatting with Ronald Reagan right outside this building. And here he is, standing in about the same spot with Mikhail Gorbachev. And that's him in the White House with Hillary Clinton. And in the Oval Office with Reagan, a picture snapped right at the moment when he was telling his friend Ron that his friend Mikhail was indeed a practicing Christian -- a revelation that led, he says, directly to the summit at Reykjavik.

Dwayne Andreas is giving a guided tour of the photos on the walls of his office. It's a big L-shaped room in the corporate headquarters of Archer Daniels Midland Co., or ADM, the colossal agribusiness corporation that Andreas has run for over a quarter-century, generating huge profits and much controversy. Outside, the morning sun is breaking through the clouds over Decatur, Ill., but in this room, thick white drapes are drawn tight across the big picture window, producing a murky twilight. Andreas, a short, slim, 78-year-old man, is wearing a gray suit, a light-blue tie with a pearl tie tack, a bright gold watch and the deep tan that he keeps perpetually fresh with regular trips to his Florida condo, where he likes to lounge around the pool with his friends Bob Dole and Bob Strauss and David Brinkley, where he once entertained his friend Boris Yeltsin.

"Isn't that a beauty?" he says, picking a bust of Reagan off a long wooden table full of mementos. "I had that made. We have a statue of Reagan in front of this building, and I had him copy that."

He sets the bust down and picks through the other items on the table. There's a hand-carved wooden bear given to him by a Russian official, he can't remember which one. There's a Soviet military hat he got from the KGB agent who guided him and his friend Richard Nixon around Moscow. There's a big coffee-table book on the Russian space program. He picks it up.

"Gorbachev gave this to me," he says. He thumbs through it for a moment, looking at pictures of cosmonauts and rockets, which reminds him that he and his old friend Hubert Humphrey were in Russia, meeting with Khrushchev, when the Soviets shot off a Sputnik satellite back in the '50s. After that, he says, he and Humphrey flew to Yugoslavia, where they stayed up into the wee hours talking to Tito, who gave Andreas the brightly colored folk-art painting of farm women that hangs on the wall across the room.

He moves on down the table, past plaques and certificates and awards, and he picks up a framed photograph of an Israeli monument to Humphrey -- "Established with the Support of Dwayne and Inez Andreas," the sign reads. "It's in Jerusalem," he says. "They sent me this picture. I don't think I ever -- no, I think I did see it one time. I was there with Steve Forbes."

He moves on, points to a big, blown-up photograph of his friend George Bush sitting on some boulders with his friend Brian Mulroney, who was then the prime minister of Canada and is now a member of the ADM board of directors. Mulroney sent him this picture, he says, and it reminds him of a story. Like so many of Andreas's stories, it involves huge international deals, connections in high places and his own legendary shrewdness.

"Mulroney asked me, Gorbachev is coming, what shall I do?' And I said, Offer him -- before he asks you for it -- offer him 500,000 tons of wheat on credit. That way, he doesn't appear to be a beggar. I know him, he's going to ask you for that.' And he said, Don't you think I ought to call George Bush first? And I said, No. He'll say don't do it. What you do is, you give it to {Gorbachev} and you call {Bush} the next morning and tell him you did it.' " Andreas smiles slyly. "It's always better to apologize than it is to ask permission."

The tour continues. There are photographs of Andreas with Yeltsin and Nixon, a proclamation in his honor from Pope John Paul II, a cross from Mother Teresa, to whom he has given more than a million dollars . . .

Dwayne Andreas knows everybody. He's like Zelig, the Woody Allen character who keeps popping up in newsreels with the movers and shakers of the 20th century. Except that Zelig was a nobody and Andreas is a major mover and shaker himself. Truman once dispatched him to Argentina to cut a deal with Juan and Evita Peron. He chatted with Stalin, then sold the Soviets 150,000 tons of vegetable oil. He touted Franco on the glories of soybean oil. He took Castro to dinner in New York. LBJ called him down to his ranch. He bought Jimmy Carter's peanut warehouse. He rode on Air Force One with his friend Bill Clinton to the funeral of his friend Richard Nixon. He sold his friends Bob and Liddy Dole a condo in the high-rise in Bal Harbor, Fla., where they work on their tans.

Such huge deals. Such high connections. Andreas has them because he understands, in ways few people do, one fact of modern farming, which is that the Government -- pick one, any one; it doesn't matter which one -- is as important as the weather. His company processes a lot of food -- ADM doesn't call itself "the supermarket to the world" for nothing -- but Andreas cultivates governments.

He is famous for his political contributions. He has given many hundreds of thousands of dollars himself and raised much more from his family and his company and its executives -- a total of more than $4 million over the last 30 years. In 1972, his secret (and legal) $25,000 contribution to the Nixon campaign ended up in the bank account of Watergate burglar Bernard Barker, providing reporters with the first link between the burglars and Nixon's aides. But he is not a Republican. Nor is he a Democrat. He is utterly bipartisan, completely non-ideological. He has donated to Jesse Helms and Jesse Jackson, Tip O'Neill and Newt Gingrich, Walter Mondale and Ronald Reagan, Michael Dukakis and George Bush, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. Especially his old friend Bob Dole: Over 15 years, Andreas and his company and his family have given more than $225,000 to Dole's campaigns and committees and foundations.

Andreas says he donates all this money because it's his civic duty: "I just consider it a part of good citizenship."

Clearly, the man relishes the photos on his wall of fame, and the stories behind them. Others have questioned what else he may have accrued through his good citizenship. In fact, for such a non-ideological guy, Andreas has drawn criticism from almost every point on the spectrum. The conservative National Review once called him a "modern robber baron." The libertarian Cato Institute called him America's "most prominent recipient of corporate welfare." And the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones said simply: "Dwayne Orville Andreas runs the world."

Andreas, for his part, says ADM would be better off if the government would leave farming to the farmers and get out of his way. He says this even though he acknowledges that just two federal programs, a tax subsidy for ethanol and price supports for sugar, help ADM earn hundreds of millions of dollars in profits every year. By one analyst's estimate, those profits amounted nearly $300 million in 1995 alone, or about 40 percent of ADM's bottom line.

But Andreas never lets the attacks in the press bother him. He rarely even responds. Why should he? His critics are pipsqueaks shooting spitballs at a giant. While they squawk, ADM grows ever larger -- from $2.8 billion in sales in 1980 to $7.7 billion in 1990 to $12.7 billion in 1995. For Dwayne Andreas, things have always gotten better and better.

Until June 27, 1995.

That night, FBI agents raided ADM's corporate headquarters, looking for evidence that its officials conspired with competitors to fix commodity prices. Andreas soon learned that one of his top executives, Mark Whitacre, had been an FBI mole for more than 2 1/2 years, taping hundreds of high-level conversations, including some with the chairman himself and many with his 47-year-old son and heir apparent, Michael "Mick" Andreas. ADM denied any wrongdoing and promptly fired Whitacre, alleging that he had stolen millions of dollars from the company by transferring money into offshore bank accounts. Whitacre acknowledged taking more than $6 million but said the payments were authorized, part of ADM's standard method of giving high honchos secret tax-free bonuses.

Thus far, no indictments have been issued, but at least four grand juries are investigating. And dozens of lawsuits have been brought against ADM by angry stockholders and by customers of the commodities whose prices, they allege, were fixed. In April, ADM agreed to pay $25 million to settle one of the customer lawsuits. Many more are pending.

Dwayne Andreas says that none of this bothers him a bit. But how could it not? His reputation has been besmirched, his legacy is in jeopardy and his son is being investigated by the Justice Department -- all at a time when his friend Bob Dole is running for president.

Meanwhile, Andreas keeps getting bizarre faxes from a group calling itself the ADM Shareholder Watch Committee. The faxes always come in the same unmistakable script typeface, signed with the same pen name, "The Lamet Vov," a Hebrew phrase that refers to the righteous:

Dwayne, relinquish the reins and jump from the chariot as you can't control the horses anymore . . .

Dwayne, you are the turkey, the government has your files, and the FBI has been recording your crime family for three years . . .

Dwayne, we hear you are in Bal Harbor. You do not need a change of climate, you need a change of soul . . . BOOM! -- THAT MONEY'LL BE THERE There's one thing Dwayne Andreas would like to clear up about his campaign contributions: He doesn't make them because he hopes politicians will take actions that will make him richer. Quite the contrary. He makes them because he already has more money than he needs and he wants to get rid of some.

It all began in the '50s, when his lawyer, Thomas Dewey, the two-time Republican presidential nominee, asked him a very personal question.

"He said, Dwayne, do you really want to get any richer than you already are?' " Andreas recalls. "And I said, No, not really.' "

At that point, he says, he was worth about $30 million. Now, his fortune is more than 10 times that much.

"He said, You've got to start giving away maybe five or 10 million dollars a year.' So I said, Fine, Tom, you figure out how to do it.' "

So Dewey set up the Andreas Foundation. And over the years, it has given millions of dollars to Mother Teresa and the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Anti-Defamation League and Miami's Barry University, where Inez Andreas serves as chairman of the board. But Dewey also had another idea.

"He came to me one day and said, You should take about $25,000 of this -- just a small part -- and contribute to political people. You've got a big business now, and governments are important to you. You should make contributions.' I said, Well, fine, you figure out how to do it.' "

So Dewey came up with a plan: Andreas would contribute $25,000 a year, with Dewey deciding where the Republican half would go and Humphrey deciding where the Democratic half would go. Over the years, the numbers have gone way up, of course, but the philosophy remains the same: Give money to both sides. And give to the people your friends ask you to give to.

His friend Bob Strauss -- the former Democratic Party chairman, former ambassador to the Soviet Union and current ADM board member -- explains it like this: "I could call him tomorrow and say, There's a guy named John Smith running for Congress . . . and this is a really good guy and he's running against a bastard, and the poor son of a bitch is going to lose because he can't get enough money.' And he'll say, Well, how much can I send him?' And I'll say, Well, you can only send him a thousand, and your wife can.' And, boom! -- that money'll be there the next day. And he may call his daughter and ask if she'd like to help -- or somebody else -- and he might give to the state party if that'll help. And he'll do that for congressmen who support the things he's interested in. Interested in selfishly and interested in unselfishly. Both kinds. So he has influence because of that."

Andreas frequently receives the kind of call that Strauss describes so lyrically. "Don't forget: We have 300 places of business," Andreas says, "and at every place of business, we have somebody who wants us to support their people. It's $50 or $500 or $5,000. With 300 places of business, if you average $1,000 a year per place, it's quite a lot of money."

He couldn't care less about the political views of the candidates he supports, he says. "I feel this way: Anybody who's willing to become a public servant -- run for office -- is entitled to get a little television time or get his car paid or something," he says. "I support 'em because I think it's my civic duty. I think everybody should support 'em."

In fact, Andreas encourages his wife and his children and his brothers and his employees and their spouses to contribute, too. He encourages them quite avidly, according to Mark Whitacre, the former ADM executive who became an FBI mole. First, Whitacre says, there were the suggested contributions to ADM's political action committee. "We got a recommended level for our salary level," he says. "It wasn't a whole lot. Maybe $100 a month. But beyond that number, they did expect five or six or seven a year, between $500 and $2,000 to individuals . . . You didn't have to do it, but the rule of thumb was that everybody felt they had to do it."

And what does Andreas expect from politicians in return for all his contributions?

"I don't expect anything from any of 'em," he says. "I'm not expecting any quid pro quo."

He has never asked a politician for anything, he says: "I've never talked to any politician about my business." He says it several times.

But when he starts telling stories about the pols he knows, he gives a different impression. He tells how he touted Dewey on soy protein back when Dewey was the governor of New York, and how Dewey later told him that he'd put soy protein in the food in state institutions. He tells how he was present when Humphrey and Illinois Sen. Everett Dirksen and ADM consultant Martin Sorkin drafted legislation that enabled the federal Food for Peace program to sell not just raw agricultural products, but processed ones as well. "It changed the whole world," he says, "because now it was the products we {at ADM} sell, not the products we buy."

And he tells a great story about discussing the wheat business with Richard Nixon, who was then running for president.

"I said, Listen, the Canadians are selling wheat to China by the millions of tons and I've got wheat all over North and South Dakota and Montana and your government will not let me sell it to China. You guys are crazy. It's just absolutely ridiculous. You're paying my farmers to cut their production by 20 percent, and if you had any brains' -- this is when I was brash enough to talk like a fool -- if you had any sense, you'd raise the wheat, sell it to China and put the money in the farmer's pocket.' And he said, Yeah, yeah.' Then he got elected and he called me about six weeks after he was in office and he said, Dwayne, I never forgot your story about wheat. During this term of office, you're going to be selling your wheat to China.' "

And, sure enough, Nixon opened up trade with China and Andreas started selling wheat there.

A few minutes after telling that story, Andreas says, "I've never discussed my business with any congressman or senator. Maybe if I'm at a social occasion and I'm asked a question, I can't say that I wouldn't answer, but I've made it a policy never to talk to any politicians about it." BEYOND PODUNK "I grew up raising pigs," Dwayne Andreas says.

He came of age in a Mennonite family in Lisbon, Iowa, where his father ran a farm and a grain elevator. Dwayne spent a couple of years at Wheaton College near Chicago in the mid-'30s, then dropped out and returned to the family grain business. He proved to be a natural, helping to expand it into three profitable feed plants. In 1945, the family sold the business to Cargill, the grain-marketing giant, making Dwayne a millionaire at 27. Cargill, recognizing his talent, promptly hired him. Soon, he was the company's youngest vice president, rumored to be a future CEO. But he quit in 1952 and went into business brokering agribusiness deals all over the world. One of them -- a deal with the Soviet government -- touched off quite a controversy in 1954.

Two years earlier, while still with Cargill, Andreas had traveled to Moscow, met Stalin and learned of the Soviets' hunger for cooking oils. So he decided to buy 150 million pounds of surplus government butter and sell it to the Soviets. This was at the height of the Cold War, though, and Commerce Secretary Sinclair Weeks refused, amid much publicity, to permit the deal. But that didn't stop Andreas.

"I sold vegetable oil instead of butter," he recalls. "We negotiated for butter, but vegetable oil and margarine are the same thing. What happened was, I got 150,000 tons of vegetable oil from Argentina . . . I got oil from Argentina into Rotterdam and oil from the United States into Rotterdam and I switched the two oils and shipped the Argentine oil into Russia -- which was legal -- and I took the U.S. oil and applied it to the Argentine contracts in Europe." He smiles at this memory. "It never got into the press either, which was a big thing."

It was the start of a long, profitable career in dealing with the Soviets. "For me it was a terrific business opportunity, and I did a lot of business, but as a thing to do, it was not very popular."

Back home, Andreas and his brother Lowell ran a soybean processing plant. In 1960, they sold it to a farmers' cooperative for $10 million and used the money to create a holding company that invested in real estate and founded a bank. Meanwhile, the farmers' coop did what Cargill had done 15 years earlier -- hired Dwayne Andreas as its vice president. He stayed there until 1966, when the two families who controlled an ailing agribusiness corporation called Archer Daniels Midland invited him to buy a large chunk of stock and start running the place. He quickly sold off non-agricultural divisions, expanded into new agricultural areas, and bought a fleet of river barges and railroad cars to haul ADM's products to market. The company -- and its profits -- have been expanding ever since. Today, ADM is among the planet's largest processors of wheat, corn and oilseeds, and its 269 plants also churn out huge quantities of everything from vitamin C to pasta to hog feed.

Observers of agribusiness frequently call Dwayne Andreas a genius. He denies the charge. "It grew, and I happened to be sitting on top of it like a June bug," he says, modestly.

But he does point out two insights that have guided his career. The first is the need to think globally: "If you're just in Podunk and you buy in Podunk and you sell in Podunk, you're never going to do very much. The way you can make money is you buy in Rotterdam while you're selling in Hong Kong." The second is the need to get along with governments: "The government is involved in every phase of agriculture. What we have in this country is -- you don't like to use the term because Americans don't understand the word -- the word is socialist. If you say that word people think of it as a bad thing, but agriculture is totally related to government programs and has been since the 1940s."

Which might explain why Dwayne Andreas has been getting close to government officials all over the world since the 1940s. FRIENDS IN BOTH PARTIES "I got into politics -- around politics -- by accident," Andreas says, sitting on a sofa in his office. "Hubert Humphrey was just a personal friend of mine. We were neighbors and he was the godfather of my son, and his kids and my kids grew up together. So I sort of got involved in politics for no reason, no reason whatsoever."

Humphrey remembered it a little differently. In his autobiography, he recalled that the friendship began with a campaign contribution of $1,000. "That was a spectacularly large amount from someone I hadn't met and hadn't asked for help, so I sought him out to thank him and take his measure. As we talked that first time, we simply clicked as friends."

That was in 1948, when Humphrey was running for the Senate. The two men remained close friends until Humphrey's death 30 years later. It was, by all accounts, a genuine friendship between two smart, quick, curious, ambitious Midwesterners who truly enjoyed each other's company. But it also proved to be mutually profitable. Andreas donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Humphrey's campaigns. (In fact, he was charged with -- and acquitted of -- making an illegal $100,000 contribution to Humphrey's 1968 presidential campaign.) He also paid for Humphrey's son Robert's tuition at a military academy and set up a trust fund for the education of the children of Humphrey aide David Gartner. And when Humphrey became vice president, Andreas administered his blind trust fund, which made lots of money, much of it in ADM stock.

For his part, Humphrey invited Andreas to accompany him on official trips all over the world, introducing him to Adenauer, DeGaulle, Nasser, Tito, Sukarno, Mobutu, Harold Wilson, Haile Selassie. "While Humphrey made his pitch to prime ministers," wrote the vice president's biographer, Carl Solberg, "Andreas went around urging merchants and bankers to get busy and import American farm commodities." Back home, Humphrey arranged to get Andreas appointed to President Kennedy's advisory council on the Food for Peace program and President Johnson's advisory committee on foreign aid. Both positions gave Andreas ample opportunities to lobby for lower federal farm price supports and higher agricultural exports. In fact, Andreas lobbied so hard that he irked Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman, who denounced him in a memo to LBJ. Caught in the middle, Humphrey defended his friend in a letter to Freeman: "Andreas, right or wrong, has been too helpful to too many of us to deserve a dressing-down in a memo to the President. He has helped substantially such senators as {George} McGovern, Gaylord Nelson, Bill Proxmire, Gale McGee, Lee Metcalf, Ted Moss -- all good administration votes."

Of course, like many other corporate titans, Andreas was playing the other side of the fence, too. On the advice of Tom Dewey, Andreas was donating equally to both parties. Among the Republican recipients was Richard Nixon. In early 1972, Andreas walked into the White House and handed Rose Mary Woods an accordion-style envelope containing $100,000 in cash -- campaign contributions from 10 friends, he says. In early April of that year -- just before anonymous donations became illegal -- Andreas gave $25,000 in cash to his friend Kenneth Dahlberg, a fund-raiser for Nixon. The money was delivered to the Nixon campaign, then laundered through Mexico and deposited in the bank account of Watergate burglar Bernard Barker. When that story broke, the newspapers noted that a bank owned by Andreas and Dahlberg had had its application for a federal charter approved in near-record time. Andreas had no advance knowledge of the break-in, but still the publicity was embarrassing.

"I didn't like it," he says. "But what's wrong with my giving $25,000 to Nixon? Everybody was giving to Nixon."

"Let's put it this way," his pal Hubert Humphrey said when he heard the news, "Dwayne has friends in both parties." ASK NOT What drives James Bovard up the wall are those ADM ads, the ones that show a corn cob, an American flag, a picture of John F. Kennedy and JFK's famous quote: "Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."

ADM is constantly asking what the country can do for it, Bovard says. The ad is the "ultimate Orwellian agitprop exercise," he charges, "the staple of ADM's public relations operation, providing the thin cover necessary to plunder the public till."

Bovard is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute and the author of several books, including The Farm Fiasco, a critique of American agricultural programs. He is also one of ADM's most dogged and prolific attackers. "ADM and its chairman, Dwayne Andreas, have lavishly fertilized both political parties with millions of dollars in handouts," he wrote last year in a Cato analysis, "and in return has reaped billion-dollar windfalls from taxpayers and consumers."

Bovard is not the only critic to make that analysis. Scores of accounts of ADM's activities have appeared in dozens of publications ranging from the utterly respectable Wall Street Journal to the conspiracy-mongering Media Bypass. All of them advance the same thesis: Andreas and his associates give huge sums to politicians who, in return, pass legislation that enriches ADM.

There are two main sources of these "windfalls." The first is the federal sugar program, which keeps the price of sugar artificially high through price supports and import quotas. The high price of sugar in turn creates a huge market for a competitive corn-derived sweetener called high-fructose corn syrup. American's largest producer of high-fructose corn syrup is ADM, which sold about $1.2 billion of it last year. That's about 10 percent of ADM's total revenue, estimates John McMillin, a financial analyst with Prudential Securities. And it's an unusually lucrative portion, generating nearly 30 percent of the company's profits -- more than $200 million in 1995.

Obviously, the federal sugar program has been very, very good for ADM.

The second "windfall" for ADM is the federal subsidy for ethanol. Basically, ethanol is moonshine -- alcohol distilled from corn. For decades, corn farmers have touted it as a fuel for cars. As such, it has several good qualities: It's home-grown, it's renewable and, in some ways (but not all), it's cleaner. But it also has problems: It costs more than gasoline and has less octane. During the oil crisis of the 1970s, though, the federal government decided to encourage ethanol production by taxing gasohol -- gasoline blended with ethanol -- at a lower rate than it taxed pure gas. Today, the tax difference is 5.4 cents per gallon. Since gasohol is nine parts gas and one part ethanol, the effect is a tax subsidy of 54 cents per gallon of ethanol. "There's no question that ethanol would not exist without federal subsidies," says McMillin. With the subsidy, though, ethanol is competitive -- and quite profitable for ADM, which is America's largest ethanol producer. The company currently makes about 9 percent of its profits from ethanol, McMillin estimates -- more than $75 million in 1995.

But that profit has come at the expense of the federal highway trust fund, which has lost about $6 billion in tax revenue over the last 15 years because of the ethanol exemption -- money that could have gone for repairs of America's roads and bridges.

Combine the corn syrup and ethanol businesses, and nearly 40 percent of ADM's profits -- almost $300 million in 1995 -- come from products that have received extraordinary help from federal policies. Those policies are, of course, set by politicians, many of whom have received a lot of money from Dwayne Andreas and his associates.

In fact, ethanol's foremost defender on Capitol Hill has been a man who has gotten more of Dwayne Andreas's largess than nearly any other politician -- Bob Dole. While receiving more than $225,000 in contributions from Andreas and his associates -- and making dozens of trips in ADM's corporate jets -- the former Kansas senator sponsored more than a dozen pro-ethanol bills, including the one that first established the tax subsidy. Last September, after the House Ways and Means Committee voted to phase out the ethanol subsidy, Dole and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad lobbied House Speaker Newt Gingrich to kill the bill in the Rules Committee, where, indeed, it later died.

Knowing Dole's fondness for ethanol, other pols used the issue to trade for concessions from him. "If I was going to bargain for something with Dole," former Illinois congressman Dan Rostenkowski said in a recent interview, "I knew there was a chink in his armor there, not only because he had Kansas and agriculture, but because he had Dwayne Andreas, too."

Dole has always maintained that his support of ethanol has nothing to do with his friendship with Andreas and everything to do with his belief that "ethanol is important to America and the farm economy of America's heartland." And Andreas says, "I've never talked to Dole about ethanol -- ever, ever, ever."

Dole is not the only recipient of Andreas's largess who has gone to bat for the ethanol industry. Far from it. In 1980, when cheap Brazilian ethanol was flooding the American market, President Carter ordered his treasury secretary to take steps to make the imports more expensive. In 1986, when the price of gas declined, making ethanol even more uncompetitive than usual, President Reagan's Agriculture Department gave $70 million worth of surplus federal corn to ethanol producers, with ADM getting about half of the booty. In 1992, not long after Andreas donated $400,000 to a Republican Party fund-raiser that he co-chaired, President Bush eased federal gasoline volatility standards for gas containing ethanol. And in 1994, shortly after Andreas donated $100,000 to a Democratic Party fund-raiser that he co-chaired, President Clinton's Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule -- later overturned in court -- that mandated the use of ethanol in about one-tenth of America's gasoline.

All of which leads James Bovard to call ADM "the nation's most arrogant welfare recipient." But what really drives Bovard crazy are those ADM ads, the one's that say "Ask not what your country can do for you . . ."

"It's heavy on the irony," he says with a grim chuckle. "If people knew how much ADM was asking from the country, that ad would be gone by now. It's a tribute to how much ADM has bamboozled the public." NO FOOTPRINTS Dwayne Andreas says the idea that ADM is a corporate welfare recipient is ludicrous.

"It's all a dream world," he says. "Every journalist likes to bang away at a big corporation because people cheer them. They're like politicians. They're looking to get applause."

Politicians didn't set up the sugar and ethanol programs to help ADM, he adds, they did it to help sugar and corn farmers. "The government is working for the farmers," he says. "The idea that ADM had anything to do with getting ethanol is so ridiculous, it's like reading the comics page. There isn't a word of truth in it."

Andreas says he can take ethanol or leave it. "It's never been very profitable, and I've never done a single thing to promote it, not a solitary single thing. But farmers are just gaga over ethanol! God, they have meetings, they have picnics, they have jamborees because of ethanol, because it's" -- he does some quick calculations in his head -- "it's $2 billion dollars worth of corn."

As for the sugar program, Andreas says he's never lobbied for that, either. "Why would I? Do you think I'm insane? There are thousands of sugar farmers, and they're talking to the government all the time."

In fact, he says, ADM has never lobbied for anything, period. "We do not lobby. We have no lobbyist. We never lobby. ADM has never lobbied in the 25 years since I've been here."

That statement is true, but more than a bit misleading. Although ADM has no office in Washington and no registered lobbyist, it helps finance trade associations that lobby vigorously for its goals -- the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association and the Corn Refiners Association, among others.

"Dwayne has probably always felt that it makes more sense -- and in the end is probably more productive -- to do it as part of a broad coalition," says Terry Claassen, president of the Corn Refiners Association. "Obviously, ADM is a major partner in the Renewable Fuels Association and the Corn Refiners Association."

"Part of their effectiveness is their ability to team up with the Corn Growers, who provide the grass-roots base," says Blake Early, a former Sierra club lobbyist who clashed with ethanol interests over the 1990 Clean Air Act. "ADM provides the connections and the money, and the Corn Growers provide the grass roots."

Andreas acknowledges that ADM lobbies by proxy. "We're infinitely better off if the farmers do it," he says. "See, we're not dumb here. And the farmers are completely obsessed with what ethanol will do for them."

In addition to working for ethanol subsidies, the Corn Growers and Corn Refiners have also lobbied hard for sugar-price supports, which helps protect the market for ADM's corn sweeteners. And ADM has aided that cause with some very clever TV ads on Sunday morning political talk shows. Instead of comparing the price of sugar in America with the price on the world market -- which is much lower -- it compared the time the average American has to work to buy a pound of sugar with the time worked by the average person in other countries -- a comparison that would make nearly everything in affluent America seem like a bargain.

Dwayne Andreas may say he never lobbies, but many veterans of Washington's legislative wars think of him as an unseen but effective master of the power game.

"Nobody does it as well," says former congressman Charles Vanik. "He's developed it into an art form." In 1980, while serving on the House Ways and Means Committee, the Ohio Democrat fought against a Dole-sponsored, ADM-backed bill to put a 40-cent-per-gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol. Vanik got creamed. He never saw Andreas, he says, but he could sense the presence of his influence. "He had it pretty well greased all the way through."

"He's a maestro who knows who the players are and how to play the game," says Jack Blum, a Washington lawyer who spent 10 years lobbying for the Independent Gas Marketers Council. As such, he opposed ADM on the Brazilian tariff and then found himself allied with the company on another gas-related issue. "When you watch those guys working that territory, you realize the clout they have," he says. "It's a combination of money, of hanging around with politicians -- hiring Bob Strauss for the ADM board is not what I would call a strategic mistake." He laughs. "And for the politician, most of what you have to deliver is so convoluted that nobody will ever figure out what you did."

"I don't think there's ever been anybody as effective as Mr. Andreas, ever, because he hasn't just done it once, he's done it over and over again," says Greg Potvin, a former head of the Cane Sugar Refiners Association, which opposed sugar-price supports. Potvin watched Andreas win many legislative wars without ever appearing on the battlefield. Fighting this phantom enemy was frustrating, and Potvin describes it in a metaphor that sounds like a fairy tale: "It always seemed that when you got into one of these battles you wouldn't see any footprints in the snow, but you knew that when you got to the cave, the princess was going to be gone." SECRET MONEY, SECRET TAPES "I was caught in the whirlwind," says Mark Whitacre.

He's a 39-year-old biochemist with blond hair, blue eyes and a boyish demeanor. Even wearing the standard corporate gray suit, he looks too young and guileless to have spent 2 1/2 years as an industrial spy, working with ADM's highest officials by day and reporting their activities to the FBI at night. He tells an amazing story of secret payments and secret tapes and high-level price-fixing.

Knowing what to make of it is somewhat complicated, for a few reasons. Whitacre neglected to tell the FBI about some $6 million he received from ADM; he tried to kill himself after ADM fired him; he has, so far, no corroborators, or at least no one who has spoken publicly. Dwayne Andreas disputes almost all of Whitacre's story -- and offers another story, also uncorroborated, of thievery and betrayal. For now, both men have told their stories to the authorities, the grand juries are weighing evidence, and the Justice Department has declined to comment.

Whitacre's story begins in the fall of 1989, when he was hired to run ADM's new bioproducts division. A Cincinnati native with a PhD from Cornell and executive experience at a German chemical company, Whitacre reported directly to Mick Andreas, Dwayne's son and ADM's executive vice president. His first task was to begin production of lysine, a corn-based amino acid used as a bulk-building feed for hogs and chickens. At first, Whitacre loved ADM. There wasn't much bureaucracy or paperwork, so you could get things done fast. In fact, he got the lysine plant built and operating by February 1991. ADM's strategy, he says, was to gain market share by undercutting the competition, which was dominated by two Japanese companies. This started a bidding war, he says, and the price of lysine plummeted from about $1.30 to 60 cents. At that rate, ADM was losing millions of dollars a month on lysine. But so, presumably, were its competitors.

Then, in early 1992, Whitacre says, Mick Andreas told him that he would be getting a secret bonus of "a couple hundred thousand dollars" that would be disguised as an overseas business expense and laundered through a foreign bank so that Whitacre wouldn't have to pay taxes on it. Whitacre says he had already heard of ADM's secret bonuses, and eagerly accepted this one. Not long after that, he says, Mick Andreas told him to start working with Terry Wilson, the head of ADM's corn-processing division. Whitacre wasn't thrilled. He'd heard that Wilson was ADM's resident price-fixing expert. And his suspicions were confirmed, he says, when Wilson asked him to set up a meeting with his main lysine competitors. (Both Mick Andreas and Wilson declined to comment on Whitacre's account.)

"They kind of give you the {secret} money," Whitacre says, "and then ask you to do this other stuff -- this price-fixing and collusion."

Within a few months, Whitacre says, he and Wilson had traveled to Tokyo and Mexico City to meet with executives of their two largest competitors, Ajinomoto and Kyowa Hakko. At those meetings, the executives discussed their mutual money-losing, but they did not fix prices. That, Whitacre says, would come later.

Meanwhile, back at the plant in Decatur, Whitacre had problems with his lysine. He began to suspect that somebody was sabotaging the production. Maybe, he thought, it was one of his Japanese rivals. He discussed the problem with Mick Andreas, he says, and Mick authorized him to offer a knowledgeable Ajinomoto official a "finder's fee" to identify the saboteur. Later, Whitacre says, Mick authorized him to offer the official "a couple million dollars" to steal Ajinomoto's secret lysine technologies. Whitacre says he talked to the official over several months, but never consummated a deal.

Then, on November 4, 1992, Whitacre says, Mick Andreas called him in and said, "My {expletive} dad called the CIA about the sabotage at the plant."

The CIA had passed the case on to the FBI. At that point, Whitacre says, Mick was afraid that the feds would uncover ADM's attempts to steal technology and fix prices, and he instructed Whitacre to lie to the FBI.

But that night, sitting in a parked car in his driveway, Whitacre told FBI agent Brian Shepard all about the price-fixing meetings and the attempts to steal lysine technology. The only thing he left out was the secret bonuses. It never occurred to him to mention them, he says.

Within a few days, Whitacre agreed to serve as the FBI's mole inside ADM. For the next 2 1/2 years, he says, he taped more than 1,000 conversations on recording devices hidden in his suit jacket, in a notebook and in a specially constructed briefcase provided by the FBI. He also helped the FBI to videotape a meeting in a Los Angeles hotel room in October 1993, where, Whitacre says, Mick Andreas and his competitors conspired to divvy up the international lysine market and fix its price.

The conspiracy worked very well, he says, and in 1994, the price of lysine nearly doubled. "We were losing $4 million a month when Mick met with them in October '93," Whitacre says. "We were earning $7 million a month by the time the deal was implemented in '94. From a $4 million loss to a $7 million gain -- that's an $11 million swing a month."

As a reward, Whitacre says, he received several more of those secret offshore bonuses -- about $6 million worth. He doesn't know if Dwayne Andreas was aware of the bonuses, but he is certain that Dwayne knew about the price-fixing: Whitacre says he recorded a conversation in the ADM executive dining room in which Mick updated Dwayne on all the details of the price-fixing deal. "Dwayne heard all those details -- on tape," he says. "He didn't comment much -- just, Uh-huh, uh-huh.' But he definitely got updated. Definitely."

After more than 2 1/2 years of secret taping, the FBI raided ADM's headquarters on June 27, 1995, carting off documents and interrogating top officials, including Mick and Dwayne Andreas. The feds announced that they were investigating price-fixing -- not only on lysine, but also on citric acid and high-fructose corn syrup.

The resulting publicity was awful for ADM and Dwayne Andreas. The media started dredging up old stories of the company's previous adventures in the arena of price-fixing: In 1978, ADM pleaded no contest to charges that it had conspired with two other companies to fix prices on federal Food for Peace contracts. In 1982, the feds filed an antitrust action involving ADM's alleged role in fixing the price of fructose, but a federal judge in Iowa dismissed it in 1991 for lack of evidence. In 1992 and 1994, ADM paid a total of $1.5 million to settle two civil suits alleging that it had conspired to fix the price of carbon dioxide. In neither settlement did ADM admit that it had done so.

Meanwhile, the story kept getting weirder. In August, ADM fired Whitacre and three other executives, alleging to the Justice Department and the media that they had embezzled millions of dollars through offshore bank accounts. Whitacre responded that the payments had been authorized and, he says, he gave the FBI names of "a dozen" others who received similar payments. But his credibility was not helped by the fact that he'd never told his FBI handlers about these so-called bonuses.

A few days later, after writing 18 farewell letters, including a 40-page one to the Wall Street Journal, he tried to kill himself by sitting in his daughter's BMW in his closed garage with the engine running. His gardener rescued him, and he spent a week in the hospital.

"The government doesn't really prepare you for the psychological side of all this," Whitacre says. "I thought, There's no way my family can live through this and it's not fair to them. I made a mistake to do this thing, and the best way to stop it immediately is to kill myself.' "

Despite his well-publicized suicide attempt and his allegations that he received illegal bonuses, Whitacre managed to land a job as the CEO of Biomar International, a new Chicago-area biotech firm. But he remains obsessed with ADM, pacing intensely around Biomar's conference room as he tells the story of his adventures as a double agent. He says he hopes his old bosses are indicted. At a trial, he contends, his tapes will corroborate his story.

"Everything I've got to say is on tape," he promises. THEY'VE GOT TO BE NUTTY' "I'm not going to talk about that," says Dwayne Andreas.

That's not surprising. While ADM has denied all of Whitacre's allegations, Andreas has not spoken publicly about the price-fixing investigation since the FBI's raid.

But he does talk about why ADM agreed to pay $25 million to settle a civil suit brought by customers who claimed they were harmed when the price of lysine was allegedly fixed. "When you have 50 lawyers suing you and you can get rid of them for $25 million," he says, "you'd be an utter fool not to do it."

Then he starts talking about Mark Whitacre. "This was a man we trusted, a nice man. We trusted him completely -- a good man, a good salesman for us. All of a sudden, we learned that he had been a dedicated criminal."

"Is this off the record?" asks Claudia Madding, Andreas's assistant, who is sitting in on the interview.

"Well, no," Andreas says. "It's in the press, what I'm saying. It's in the press."

He continues his story. "We found that he had stolen millions and millions of dollars very, very cleverly. He made up elaborate contracts, forged our president's signature time after time. . . And when we caught him, the first thing we saw was that he had a deal we thought was illegal -- I thought was illegal -- with the Japanese." It was "a deal for sabotage in the lysine business," he says. "We immediately went to the government and reported it. We went to the CIA because it was international."

The CIA called in the FBI. When Whitacre heard about the FBI's investigation, he panicked, Andreas says. "He had told us, for example, that the Japanese were going to kidnap his daughter . . . So we immediately got our general counsel and director of security into his office, and he admitted that was all a fabrication." (Whitacre denies that he ever concocted a kidnapping plot.)

And so, Andreas says, he knew that Whitacre had stolen millions of dollars, conspired with the Japanese and invented a bogus kidnap plot. And yet he did not fire him until nearly three years later. Why?

"After we found out he was a crook, we had to be very careful how we handled it," Andreas says, "because we had the FBI and we had to do whatever we thought was the right thing. We did all the things you're supposed to do . . ." A few minutes later, he returns to this topic: "You say why didn't we fire him right on the spot? We wanted to get our money back, for one reason. Nothing wrong with that. As a result of that, we got $6 million frozen in Switzerland, and in Grand Cayman we have frozen one and one-half million dollars."

Meanwhile, Whitacre was working at ADM, secretly recording hundreds of conversations. "The FBI tapped his phone with our permission," Andreas says, "but after they caught him, instead of coming back to us, they said, We'll give you immunity if you'll get other people.' They said, We'll give you a tape to wear, you can go around your office, and go to your competitors, tape their conversations.' And he did that."

Whitacre taped conversations for two years. Then, after the FBI raid, Andreas got to hear some of the tapes. He says they show that Whitacre was attempting entrapment. "We started hearing about the tapes, and we find he's here going to this executive, that executive, saying, What do you say we do this? What do you say we do that?' He's working for the FBI, trying to get people to say something on tape."

Andreas denies that he or anyone at ADM -- except Whitacre -- ever attempted to fix prices. In fact, he argues, it is impossible to fix commodity prices. "Prices in our commodity business are worldwide and they change every five minutes. For anybody to say, I can fix prices,' they've got to be nutty."

Andreas says that this whole bizarre affair does not trouble him. "It doesn't seem to have bothered me any," he says. "Our business goes on just the same."

There has been a lot of bad publicity, he concedes, but he doesn't worry about that. "We're not in the publicity business. We don't make any consumer goods. We don't sell anything to the public. Naturally, we don't like bad publicity, but what does it do? As long as we didn't do anything wrong -- and I know we didn't -- it can't be a very big problem for me." THE NEXT BIG DEAL He leaves his office, walks through a room full of secretaries, takes the elevator downstairs, strolls into the ADM trading room.

It's huge, bigger than a football field. On the front wall, commodity prices flash across a giant screen. In row after row of desks, a battalion of traders is doing what Andreas says an agribusiness must -- "buy in Rotterdam while you're selling in Hong Kong." He watches for a moment, then moves on to the ADM executive dining room. It's a small, modest, place. The only affectation is a video monitor that hangs from the ceiling, displaying commodity prices. He sits at a table already occupied by three ADM executives and Terry Claassen, head of the Corn Refiners Association. A waitress immediately appears. Andreas declines the special of the day, Canton Pork, opting instead for a plate of fruit and vegetables. Claassen has some gossip from Capitol Hill, nothing too exciting. There is small talk: Too much rain this spring, not good for the corn farmers. Andreas doesn't say much. The others order gooey desserts but he settles for coffee, which he sweetens with a few drops of ADM corn syrup.

After lunch, he rides the elevator back to his office. He seems tired. But he perks up when he starts telling stories about Reagan and Gorbachev.

"The president once said to me, Do you think Gorbachev could be a Christian?' I told him I knew his parents were baptized. He said, Can you find out for me? That's important to me.' "

So when Andreas went to Moscow, he asked his old friend Gorbachev if he was a Christian. "Gorbachev said, Oh, yeah, my wife and I go to church.' "

Andreas went to the White House to report back to Reagan. "When I told that to the president, he was really interested in that. He said, Well, I think I'll meet with him. I think I'll meet with him in Reykjavik.' "

And that, Andreas says, is how he did his part to end the Cold War. "These two people could not speak to each other, remember that?" he says. "So somebody had to say -- I said to Gorbachev, Look, Reagan is a decent guy. Never mind what he says in those speeches.' . . . And then I had to say the same things to Reagan because he had people making him think that Gorbachev was some kind of murderer."

Having engineered rapprochement with the Soviet Union, Andreas now hopes to do the same with Cuba. He had dinner with Castro in New York last fall and came away impressed.

"I could see that he's smart as hell," Andreas says. "He's very pro-business now, never mind what he was . . . But the amazing thing to me is: Clinton won't meet with him. Nixon met with communists all the time. Reagan did. And George Bush. Why the hell do you suppose Clinton won't meet with this fellow in this beautiful little island, which is a great place for an American to go and do business?"

It's a rhetorical question. He knows the answer -- the Cuban-American vote in Florida.

"Castro -- I'm going to go down and see him," he says. "I want to put a refinery there."

It's not legal for American companies to do business with Cuba, but Dwayne Andreas isn't worried about that. "I'm going to have our Spanish subsidiary do it," he says, "because we don't control them, so it's perfectly legal for them to do it."

He's excited. He's perched on the edge of the couch, his eyes wide. He's not worrying about any price-fixing investigation now. He's plotting his next big deal. "It'll be sugar out, cooking oil in," he says. "Perfect! They get much richer. We all get richer." CAPTION: Dwayne Andreas is seemingly omnipresent: second from left on a trade panel in Moscow; between Naina Yeltsin, far left, and Hillary Clinton at George Washington University; and with Brian Mulroney in Illinois. CAPTION: Mark Whitacre, an FBI mole, speaks of secret payments and secret tapes and high-level price-fixing at Archer Daniels Midland.