Is this really wise? Yeah, I know it's one of your 'neat ideas'. But remember what happened the last time you had a neat idea?

The Ayatollah got stuck with a cake, a Bible and a lot of defective and overpriced rocket parts. The American hostages in Beirut weren't released (and your friend Terry Waite spent five years chained to a wall). The Contras may or may not have obtained a few extra AK47s and land-mines but they still lost the war and quite a bit of the Iranian dough vanished altogether (not that I am implying anything).

And, what's more, you nearly got your Commander-in-Chief impeached and yourself thrown in jail. An epic, sweaty couple of nights shredding incriminating documents in the Old Excecutive Office Building just saved Ronnie's skin, and yours. That's presumably what President Reagan meant when he said you were an 'American hero' (just after he fired you).

A pretty neat idea, Iran-Contra. But running for the Senate? Haven't you always believed that democracy was too important a business to be left to elected politicians? Wasn't freedom something to be achieved by trampling laws, not going through the dreary business of making them? Are you really going to join the great, corrupt talking shop, to which you proudly lied before Iran-Contra seeped out, and afterwards, in marine uniform, on live television? It can't be the money. You raised dollars 13m for your legal defence fund. You celebrated your conviction in 1989 on three Iran-Contra felony charges (later quashed on technicalities) by purchasing a dollars 1,170,000 ranch beside the lovely Shenandoah River in western Virginia. Your Freedom Alliance now raises over dollars 2m a year to fight the Communist threat to America (a bit like we Brits raising money to resist Napoleon Bonaparte, but no matter). You have made many more millions of dollars from speeches to sympathisers and autographed copies of your book (you buy remaindered copies at dollars 3 each and sell them signed at dollars 25 each). All this on top of a successful business designing and selling flak jackets.

No, Ollie, you have clearly been seduced by the burst of public adulation following your Congressional appearances in 1987. (Remember, someone even removed the H from the Hollywood sign on the hills above Los Angeles.) You have been seduced by all those full-size photos of yourself with rows of teeth and medals that adorn every red-neck filling station in America. Like all the other white male millionaires in the US Senate, you are bored with making money (a perfectly honourable American occupation) and you want to 'enter public service' (distinctly un-American). You are giving up the honest, decent world of business and covert operations for overt politics, where you will have to mingle with other Senators and Congressmen - in your own words - 'an arrogant army of ultra-militant feminists and homosexual activists dominated by the far left and containing too many members mired in immoral personal behaviour.' You said it, pal.

(Photograph omitted)