China is stealing nuclear secrets. Troops are on their way to Kosovo. And a dozen potential presidential candidates are already jockeying for a job that won't be vacant for another 20 months. After a year of impeachment, things are back to normal in Washington.

Yet some questions still beg for answers:-- How, exactly, does Malcolm S. Forbes define "establishment?" Last week the publishing heir launched his second run for the presidency -- though one could argue that Forbes never quite finished running after losing the GOP nomination to Bob Dole in 1996. This time around, Forbes launched his campaign by lambasting "establishment" politicians and other assorted "elites" in several published reports.

If this guy's a populist, we'd hate to see what the real establishment looks like.

-- Is there anything that a country can do to get on the wrong side of this administration?

Last month, the Clinton administration once again recertified Mexico as "fully cooperating" in the war on drugs -- despite evidence that corruption reaches the highest levels of law enforcement there. Never mind that Mexico is by far the most popular trans-shipment point for heroin and cocaine that enters the United States.

Two months hence, the administration will once again renew China's "most-favored nation" trade status, ignoring strong evidence of a systematic plot by that country to illicitly acquire our most sensitive weapons technology. There is little to no chance that Congress will meddle with either decision.

There's an easy way to solve this problem: Eliminate this annual charade altogether.

-- Is anyone shedding tears for the House committee leaders who might be forced to step down in two years? Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may be gone, but one of his fabled reforms is now rubbing a few senior lawmakers the wrong way. When Republicans seized control of Congress in 1994, Gingrich pushed through a rules package that included a six-year term limit for committee chairs. The resolution passed easily.

But six years are almost up, and some chairmen don't want to give up their posts.

-- What's driving Susan McDougal? The Clintons' former Whitewater partner is now facing a criminal trial for contempt-of-court. She's already spent 18 months in the slammer for refusing to talk about the Clintons' role in the failed venture. Ken Starr wants to know if McDougal has information that might reveal whether Hillary and Bill were the passive investors that they claim -- or if they played an active part in the fraud that kept Whitewater and Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan afloat.

These are among questions that still hover over the head of an impeached president.

United Feature Syndicate