IN DETROIT, we learn that if anyone at the sergeant-at-arms level or above has favorbly mentioned a person for vice presidency, there are only a few acceptable utterances that he can make and not jeopardize his chances for selection: "Frankly, I could not be happier than I am in my present job as lieutenant governor/superintendent of vocational education/congressman-at -large. All I ever aspired to do was to finish the work the good people of Texarvada were kind enough to trust me with. Then all I want to do is be able to spend some time with Doris/Bambi/the children, Fuzzy and Sis."

Having established that you are ineffably happy in your work and could not possibly be interested in making a change, you can now go directly to Step Two in winning the vice presidency. That is to deploy your appointed agents and most trusted volunteers, in and around convention city hotels and saloons, to poison the well concerning any of the other 77 semi-finalists who have also been mentioned.

It is this Step Two that has enabled visitors to and residents of Detroit to learn over the weekend that this Eastern congressman, as an elementary school student, could never manage to stay inside the lines when coloring, or that a certain senator under heavy questioning would admit that he, on several different occasions, did not "use the revolving door" and had "talked to the driver" while the vehicle was "in motion."

It is the spirit of Step Two that has led to the following trivia, or what might qualify as character assault and battery: How could we Republicans ever go to the American people with a ticket made up of an ex-movie star and an ex-professional football player? . . .Hey, I don't want to knock Rumsfeld, but he's never won a race outside of a single congressional district in Illinois, and he hasn't even run for office in over 10 years except for national convention delegate, and he finished sixth in his own district. . . .Paul Laxalt is really a terrific guy, but do you think the voters of the Bible Belt or even the Midwest would vote for a candidate who had received support from pit bosses and croupiers?. . .Dick Lugar? Great guy, but what do you answer when the press starts in on him as "Nixon's favorite mayor"?. . .George Bush? Sure, he rallied to carry Michigan and Pennsylvania, but can anyone ever forget what happened in Nashua when Reagan grabbed the microphone? George just froze. I only hope he wouldn't do that against Mondale or, even worse, against the Russians.

If you listen to this gossip long enough, you can only come to one conclusion: that the only realistic candidates for vice president, the only individuals whose standards measure up to what the party and the country need in these parlous times are Donny Osmond, Pat Boone and Mother Teresa. We will keep you posted on all developments as they develop. Promise.