Seven o'clock early for the phone to be ringing I reached for the phone. "Republican national committee has been bugged," said my editor. "Get down there." I started to dress, then I stopped. My editor sounded suspiciously like Jason Robards.

I went to my terrace. I put the little American flag into a pot of geraniums and then tore out a corner of page 93 of the New York Times. I got dressed and biked downtown. I always bike downtown. Sometimes I bike and play the guitar. I have been doing this since Yale and the Navy, $99[TEXT OMITTED] sources say.

Washington was deserted at that hour of the morning. The government offices were deserted. So were the undergrond parking garages. I tried too, yelling, "yoo hoo, yoo hoo," but all I managed to do was scare the devil out of some poor drunk. Overhead, small Lear jets made lazy circles in the sky and they waited for permission to land at National Airport. Only later was I to learn that they were bringing Hollywood stars to Washington.

I arrived at the Republican National Committee. tried to talk to the guard, but he said I would have to talk to his agent. He said he was quitting that day and from there on would only give paid interviews. I went inside. The cops would not talk, either. All of them had signed book contracts and a chief investigator had already quit the department that morning so he could be on Phil Donahue that night.

I saw some familiar faces. Robert Redford was there so was Dustin Hoffman. They were running around showing reporters how things should be done. Gordon Liddy was also there, swallowing whole telephones. Robert DeNiro was there, looking for a part, and so was Burt Reynolds. He said he would play me. It made sense since I'm always being mistaken for him.

The rest of the day, Reynolds followed me around, watching what I did, learning what it's like to be a reporter for the Washington Post. I showed him how I take notes, sometimes using a ballpoint pen, sometimes a felt tip pen. He seemed awed.

Reynolds and I went to see Mary Crisp, the GOP co-chairperson whose office and apartment have possibly been bugged. She was accompanied by Candice Bergen who, she said, will play her in the movie. I asked Crisp if Crisp was her stage name. She said it wasn't.

I then asked her who bugged her phone. She said She couldn't say. I could tell that she was nervous and that she wanted us to leave. I played for time. "Do you have any coffee?" I asked. "No, she said. "Tea?" I persisted. "No," she insisted. "Ovaltine?" I inquired. "No," she demurred. "Perrier?" I suggested. "Terrific idea," she said. "Lime or lemon?"

For the next three hours I nursed the drink. All Reynolds did was smile and watch me take notes. I found out some scary stuff about the Rebublicans -- page one stuff. They were about to nominate Ronald Reagon! Reynolds burst out laughing when he heard that. "What about Ray Bolger?" he yelped. Crisp shot him a look of reproach. I didn't dare. I was already under contract.

We left Crisp and I went to the phone to call an old source at the FBI.

"Who bugged Crisp?" I asked.

"They did," the voice said.

"Who's they" I asked.

"Look, this is bigger than you think," he said. "I can't tell you anything. This goes right to the top."

"You mean?"

"I can't say."

Look, I'll count to 10 backwards. If when I get to five, it's the White House that ordered the bugging, you hang up. Okay?"

"Well. . ."

Reynolds shot me a warm smile. "Let me count," he volunteered. Just then the phone went dead. Now I didn't know what to say.

I went back to my apartment and moved the flag and the plant. I ate a page of the New York Times. I went into four parking garages and made 163 phone calls, reaching everone I wanted. I posed for the cover of People magazine. I won four journalism awards and became Albert Schweitzer humanitarian of the year. I flew to Italy twice. I made Reynolds, a sandwich, dated a rock star, played my guitar, typed at my typewriter, paced called John Mitchell for old times sake, turned down a date with John Travolta, blew dry my hair, earned a reputation as cold, warm, loud, quiet, unassuming, assuming, and able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. Just then the phone rang.It was my source at the FBI.

"I know who bugged the Republican National Committee," he said. And now, so do I. And so will you if you see my movie, Careergate, starring Burt Reynolds, Candice Bergen, and Ronald Reagan playing himself, starting soon at your neigborhood theater.