Michael Kinsley has been called "a collection of flying feathers that wafts away on whatever breeze of intellectual quirkiness he can find." In his column about the Archer Daniels Midland Co., though, he wafted too far {op-ed, May 31}.

For Kinsley to write that ADM is unknown for anything except its TV commercials is like saying The Post is unknown for anything except for its Kinsley columns. With annual sales of $16 billion, ADM and its affiliates make up one of the world's largest agribusinesses, exporting large quantities of both ethanol and fructose in direct competition in world markets.

But that was not Kinsley's only misstatement.

Kinsley called one ADM commercial on the cost of sugar "dishonest ... What's wonderful is that ADM doesn't make sugar," he wrote. Wrong. ADM is in the sugar business in Louisiana and has more than $100 million invested in sugar plants worldwide.

Kinsley assaulted another commercial claim that ethanol cleans up the air with this silliness: "Actually, the air is as clean for kids as it is for adults. That is one of the things about air." One of the things about kids' lungs, however, is that they are more sensitive to pollutants than the lungs of adults. But more to the point, Kinsley must know that ethanol reduces the amount of carbon monoxide in auto emissions.

Finally, in attempting to discredit a TV spot that offers advice on how to avoid harmful fumes when filling the family car, Kinsley asked, "Why this sudden fretting about benzene?" Well, a single drop of benzene, a known carcinogen, in a barrel of water was sufficient to force the worldwide recall of a well-known mineral water. If you were to drink an ounce of benzene, you'd probably die.

Kinsley even dredged up the worn-out allegation that it takes more energy to make ethanol than ethanol replaces. The idiocy of that argument is apparent if you know that ethanol is a product of the refinement of American corn. The process first yields corn oil and gluten feeds for poultry and livestock. What remains is starch (in surplus worldwide), which is refined into ethanol. Producing a gallon of ethanol requires only about 6 1/2 cents worth of coal; the other coproducts come at no additional energy cost. It is, quite simply, one of the most efficient energy manufacturing processes in the world.

One more fact: those commercials Kinsley harangued were reviewed by the networks' broadcasting standards departments, which insist that every fact be documented. Too bad Kinsley's mutant ninja gonzo journalism didn't follow the same standards. -- David D. Floren The writer is chairman of Martin/Williams Advertising, which represents ADM.