"I can't think of a better place for gas lines than Washington, D.C. No place should have longer gas lines than Washington. . . . We're suffering because of the way Washington has been behaving for the past several years." . . . Jody Powell, White House press secretary, Tokyo news conference.

MEMO TO: Jody Powell

SUBJECT: Welcome home.

FROM: The gang in Washington.

Hope you are having a nice time in Japan. Here it has been hot. Did you have time to unpack from your recent trip to Vienna? Your job sure keeps you jumping.

By the way, Jody, you sure were lucky to get enough gas to fly all the way to Japan. Personally I couldn't get enough to take the kids to Ocean City. People said there were stations open away from Washington. But I was afraid to risk it.You sure have more nerve than I do. Flying all the way to Japan. Are your airplane tags "odd" or "even"?

Guess what, Jody. A lot of people here have taken gas at your Tokyo remarks. You know why? Get this: Just because you said we deserve the long gas lines we have. People sure are touchy.

I agree with you that Washington is the cause of the energy crisis. Just the other day I heard a clerk at a drug store say she might have to quit her job because she can't afford (she pulls in more than $3 per hour) gas. And she said the bus-Metro service from Anacostia is lousy. Don't drugstores have staff limos?

Also, there is this guy who runs a delicatessen near me. Claims he has had to shorten his hours (he works from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.) because he is spending time in gas lines these mornings. Obviously he doesn't know what chauffeurs are for.

Unless people like him - the cook and the deli guy - are willing to pay more and use less, and make other meaningful sacrifices, how are we ever going to get out of this mess?

This criticism of you, from Washington, D.C. of all places, shows how unsophisticated and flaky people here really are. Wasn't it only recently that they gave your boss - the man who hired you - the biggest majority he got in the election? And now these same clowns are turning on you. And him. What a bunch of whiffs.

And the government workers. My God, what a racket they make about transportation. Last week more than 1.5 million of them tried to cram into the subway system. They are lemmings, all.

Hey, Jody, (this is confidential), I understand there are "special arrangements" for important people here in town. I mean to get gas. And a good thing, too. Otherwise those cabbies, truckers and government clerks would hog all the available fuel.

I was wondering if maybe you could help me out. I don't like to boast about VIP status but, well, this is the capital's biggest newspaper (the Watergate one, remember) and I do this column six days a week. Mel at Duke Ziebert's knows me on sight. And there is a liquor store on MacArthur Boulevard that never asks me for ID when I write a check. So maybe I qualify.

I ask only because, well, getting around government you hear things. Like the speaker of the House and the Senate's majority leader have this special gas pump where they (their chauffeurs, actually) can fill up their limousines anytime. An a good thing, too. We can't have people like that sitting in lines. After all, they aren't from Washington.

Also, I know that the White House has been able to keep its vehicle fleet rolling thanks to supplies it orders through the Defense Department.

If people want to get away for the weekend, why don't they summon up an Air Force helicopter? Makes a lot more sense than sitting on the Bay Bridge in traffic, wasting gasoline and all.

If all else fails, maybe the two of us could form a car pool. I'd be glad to drive, but . . . parking is tight around here. And expensive.Maybe if you have free parking at your office we could use your car. I'll be happy to split the gas with you.