Former San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein (D) and Sen. Pete Wilson (R) have postponed their second and last television debate for a week so Wilson can return to Washington, but the California gubernatorial nominees' screeching fax machines have quickly filled the rhetorical void.

Feinstein, who had been flaying Wilson daily for missing Senate votes while he campaigned, declared Wilson "had finally agreed to start doing the job" he was elected for but added that his return to Washington was "too little too late."

Wilson replied that he had always promised to be on hand for important votes, and chided Feinstein for breaking her promise -- made at their first debate -- to suspend campaigning while he was in Washington.

Mervin Field's California Poll showed Wilson still slightly ahead, 47 to 42 percent, with no significant change in his lead after the first debate Oct. 7. But he had a surprising 46 to 44 lead among female voters (he leads 49 to 41 percent among men). Some pollsters attribute this to his strong anti-crime stand, bolstered by an endorsement this week from the Women Prosecutors of California. That may also help explain Feinstein's vehement response to Wilson's accusation that she was "insensitive to rape victims."

Feinstein, who has her own long list of police endorsements, called Wilson's charge "one of the most outrageous political attacks I have ever heard." She said Wilson's absence during a Friday Senate vote on an abortion parental consent bill meant "the 17-year-old who has been raped by her own father would . . . be required to notify the perpetrator -- her father -- before seeking abortion services."