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Ross Perot held a press conference the other day, and he did what he so often does in such settings: He got into an argument with a reporter.

Somebody asked him to respond to "critics" who say Perot is re-emerging on the political scene simply because he can't stand being out of the limelight."What critics?" Perot demanded. "Who said that?"

"Well, any number of people have made that suggestion."

"Who are they?" Perot shot back. "Have you seen that in print? I haven't seen that in print."

The reporter could not produce a specific source of the criticism or a published quote.

Well, since Perot is demanding a published comment by someone accusing him of yearning for attention, I think the only decent thing to do is to accommodate him. So, here it is:

Perot has re-emerged on the political scene because he can't stand being out of the limelight.

There it is. It is now officially in print. That reporter who asked about it at Perot's news conference is hereby authorized to quote me.

Perot's capacity for self-indulgence, self-promotion and self-congratulations is beyond breath-taking. Texas is an enormous state, but it isn't nearly large enough to contain the ego of Perot.

Perot used to content himself with piling up his billions and meddling in Texas politics. But an individual who considers himself the world's foremost man of action, the world's foremost financial wizard, the world's foremost Mr. Wonderful - such a man could not forever withhold his genius from the nation at large.

He shared his brilliance with the country during last year's presidential campaign, enlightening the misguided masses with his penetrating analysis of the federal budget deficit:

"We've got to clean out the barn."

He would balance the budget, he said, "without breaking a sweat."

Golly gee, I sure hope Bill Clinton was taking notes.

Perot managed to collect 19 million votes in the presidential election, many of them from people who apparently figured that throwing away a vote on the nation's foremost scheming weasel was a good way to protest the status quo in politics and government.

After the election, he crawled back under his rock, and the world was a better place for his disappearance.

Perot is a thin-skinned, paranoid egomaniac who has no tolerance for criticism. But there is one thing he hates even more than being criticized: He can't stand to be ignored.

So, let's say it one more time, just to make sure that it has appeared in print at least twice and that there can be no argument if some intrepid reporter should bring up the subject again:

Ross Perot has re-emerged on the political scene because he can't stand being out of the limelight.