The topless duchess


MY nerves were frazzled from the political campaign, so my doctor ordered me to get off it and into something more comfortable.

I decided to call England and talk to my friend Howard Clements in Priddy, Near Wells, Somerset.

"What's with the topless duchess?" I asked him.

"How did you find out about it?" he said nervously.

"It's all over town," I assured him. "The Americans are very upset about it."

"Because Fergie was topless?"

"No," I said, "because we can't see the photo. You see, Howard, we're a nation of family values, and when someone like the Duchess of York doesn't follow the proper dress code on the beach it demeans all of us -- not only Marilyn and Dan Quayle but Pat Buchanan as well."

"Well, it's none of their business what Fergie is up to. If our newspapers don't pay any attention to it, why should yours?"

"We probably wouldn't except that the gentleman who was entwined with Fergie in the photos was from Delaware. Most people find it hard to believe that a native of Delaware would voluntarily be photographed with a member of the royal family in a compromising situation."

"Are you trying to say that Mr. Bryan was coerced into petting with the duchess?"

"What else are we to believe? We're not entirely ignorant as to what is going on with the royal family these days. We hate scandal about any member of it because we're so near Canada."

"What about Woody Allen?" Howard said.

"Woody is not a member of the monarchy. He is just an older man in love with a younger woman and has renounced his rights to be president of the United States."

"I still don't understand why Americans would stick their noses into what the duchess was not wearing in Tropez. There are beaches all over the world where women go topless."

"Yes, but most of topless you see on the sands are those of the common people. Fergie is royalty -- at least she will be until her divorce. This is an election year, so President Bush can't ignore it. He needs every vote he can get, and he has to speak out because there are more women in America who still wear tops on their bikinis than those who don't."

"This may be a big deal to you people," Howard said, "but it's meaningless to those of us in the European Community. When it comes to topless bathing suits on the Riviera, 80 percent of all Europeans are pro-choice. While we're on the subject, what if the daughter of someone in the White House said she was going skinny-dipping in the Potomac -- what would her father do?"

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