IT MUST be hard to be a menopausal liberal. How else to explain the collective meltdown being experienced by women of a certain age and political stripe in the waning days of this midterm election?

The examples of hormonal angst are too numerous to list, so I'll just focus on a few of the more amusing ones.

JOY BEHAR VS. SHARRON ANGLE: A lot of people, not just women, hate the GOP Senate candidate from Nevada.

She's been ridiculed as an "Annie Get Your 'Second Amendment Remedies,' " a racist who can't tell chalupas from chow mein and a woman who thinks rape victims should be drinking lemonade.

But the most biting criticism has come from a woman whose primary claim to fame is sitting on a sofa and assuming that her "view" matters to anyone other than the shut-ins who watch her show.

For days, Joy Behar has been calling Angle the "b-word" (you know, the one that liberals think rhymes with "Christine O'Donnell"). But in a savvy move, Angle sent flowers to Behar thanking her for the comment, which helped net her $150,000 in campaign contributions in 24 hours.

Behar, showing that her comedic and intellectual range runs the gamut, as they say, from A to B, called Angle the b-word yet again. Someone needs to up her dose of Premarin - and maybe those hot flashes will go away.

BARBARA BOXER VS. CARLY FIORINA: Madame Senator is in the race of her life in California, and is pulling out all the stops to make sure her cushy public job is safe for at least one more term. In one of her first attacks on the former Hewlett Packard CEO, Boxer targeted Fiorina for her pro-life views and said she wants to make abortion "a crime, and that would mean women and doctors in jail. . . that is so out of touch with Californians."

Aside from the fact that many of us on the East Coast don't have the faintest idea what Californians are in touch with to begin with, Boxer is using the kind of hyperbole that pro-choicers have patented.

It might work with the Emily's List types who think abortion is a sacrament and Margaret Sanger was a saint, not a eugenicist. But in the current political climate, she might find out that being called "ma'am" is the least of her troubles. Maybe she needs anti-

irritability meds?

MAUREEN DOWD VS. EVERYONE TO THE RIGHT OF LENIN: The redheaded doyenne of the New York Times op-ed page looks great for her age, but her shtick is getting old.

Like a werewolf under a full moon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist morphs into a sharp- clawed hyena whenever Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Nikki Haley or Christine O'Donnell do anything newsworthy. And when she can't pick on them separately, she just lumps them together as "the ideal nihilistic cheerleaders for an angry electorate."

Of course, she'd never say a mean thing about Nancy Pelosi, who isn't exactly pledging at Gamma Gamma Pollyanna. But that's because San Fran Nan is, like her, a liberal icon who battles daily against conservative values and the dreaded "traditional lifestyles."

Sometimes, her attacks are so hysterical that you wonder if those tight leather boots she favors are cutting off the blood flow to her petty brain.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG VS. BILL O'REILLY: I used to like Goldberg.

She and I are miles apart when it comes to politics, but unlike some of the other high-profile sisters who sat on that same couch (Rosie O'Donnell and Star Jones come to mind), she never seemed to take herself too seriously.

Plus, she's loyal to friends who go off the deep end, like actor Mel Gibson. Unfortunately, her funny bone fractures when it comes to conservatives like Bill O'Reilly.

When Mr. Fox News correctly stated that "Muslims" attacked us on 9/11 (I don't remember any Presbyterians hijacking those planes), she became outraged and stomped offstage, dreads in a twist.

So much for reasoned debate.

Goldberg used to be stand-up in her character, not just her comedy. Now I'm not so sure. It must be the exposure to Behar.

All of this proves that elections and menopause have a lot in common. They can get you hot and bothered. Emotional and irrational. Some need drugs to get through them.

But, the good news is, they're both eventually over.

Hope and "change" indeed.

Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer.