Andy Rooney, of the bush brows and the puckish persiflage, is probably the best performer of the televised essay. (The competition, of course, is limited.) This text gathers dozens of scripts, mostly short, originally prepared for delivery on television. But Andy isn't just another pretty face; when he's in top form, his stuff is even better without the video. Says our latter day Mr. Dooley: the ""average football fan is a college graduate with an eighth grade education."" As diner-out, he warns darkly: ""If there's a tassel on the menu, you can add a couple of dollars per person."" As capital pundit: ""In Washington, a confidential assistant is the person who, if you don't want to know something, you go and ask him and he won't tell you."" He knows better than Edgar Guest what makes a house a home. The state of American hotels and restaurants is deftly surveyed. The meaning of D-day, so long ago, is movingly reviewed. Along with some worthwhile light observations on a variety of domestic paraphernalia (from fences and signs to chairs and soap), Rooney says things worth hearing on work and war, ourselves and others. His piece on New York City may be the best on the subject since Prof. E. B. White a generation back. ""Our society has become so interested in the visual aspect of everything,"" says Andy Rooney, ""it's easy to forget that there are no pictures of the most interesting things that go on in the world."" You needn't be a regular to respond.