“There’s no doubt in my mind, with your help, Dave Lamberti will be the next United States congressman.” — President Bush last week, endorsing Jeff Lamberti.

AUSTIN, Texas — Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has announced his candidacy for the president of the United States. Until now, he’s barely been noticed as a guy who took money from Brent Wilkes and Mitchell Wade, whose bribes to Randy “Duke” Cunningham led to Cunningham’s resignation from Congress and his plea of guilty to bribery charges. Hunter is widely expected to be the next congressman indicted in this scandal.

As for the presidential candidacy of the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, we have been thinking of scarcely little else around here. It’s about time we had some good news.

There’s so much evidence stacking up in the “Can’t These People Do Anything Right?” file, you’d suspect their secret strategy is to reward incompetence. It’s like the hiring of Michael “Brownie” Brown at FEMA or John Bolton at the United Nations — it’s just hard to imagine why.

So now the latest report from the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction says we have lost track of hundreds of thousands of guns we shipped to Iraq, many of which probably are now being used to kill our soldiers. For this administration, “Who’s in charge of getting the plastic forks for the potato salad at the company picnic?” has deadly consequences.

A depressing story like this, and the week has barely even begun. I hate to imagine what will be on our plates by Friday.

So with the Bushies continuing their tailspin, it might be time to review the rules in case WE WIN in the upcoming midterm elections:

I realize for many Democrats it has been so long since we won, we have completely forgotten the etiquette. And I realize I’m taking a chance here — there’s nothing more dangerous than overconfidence — but you have to practice for victory as well as defeat.

First rule: No gloating. Actually, there is gloating aloud, but only in the exclusive presence of other Democrats. Gloating in the face of Republicans is rude and unsportsmanlike, and just gives them one more thing to complain about. Also, remember there is a possibility there may be some Republicans on the civil service staff — I have seen this when the R’s win — and it is really not good manners to watch them wailing around with their eyes brimming with tears.

Second, I’m sure we will all be full of grand theories if Republicans lose and we win. Dems will be ready to be helpful, offer advice and sort of try to perk the R’s up. I do not recommend this. It somehow never feels to me when R’s are dumping truckloads of good advice on the D’s that they are, actually, sincere about it.

Third, celebratory jigs, reels and renditions of “Danny Boy” are best limited to Irish bars.

Fourth, try to refrain from insulting Republicans en masse. A good start would be, “You know, it was mostly the ones under indictment that hurt you.”

To find out more about Molly Ivins and see works by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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