We talk to the Daisy Duke actress about her character on ''The Dukes of Hazard''

Daisy Duke is right up there with Xena, Charlie’s Angels, and Emma Peel when it comes to models of female power and pulchritude. She spawned a fashion craze in the early ’80s (and the 1993 hit song ”Dazzey Duks”) with her trademark short-shorts, and, after a 12-year absence, she’s back, with CBS’ The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! (April 25, 8-10 p.m.). It’s not a moment too soon for fans of Bo and Luke Duke’s sassy cousin. Costar John Schneider calls Daisy ”one of the most attractive women ever to grace the TV screen. She transcends social structure and geography.” And thanks to Catherine Bach, 43, who reprises her role as the former Boar’s Nest waitress (now a grad student at Duke University, natch), Daisy was also able to transcend the brevity of her clothing, proving to be a character with integrity and strength. Bach — who lives in L.A. with her husband, lawyer Peter Lopez, and 15-month-old daughter, Sophia — has toured with the USO and mostly done regional theater since the series ended. She recently took time out to discuss the social phenomenon that is Daisy Duke.

· Why is Daisy such a lasting female idol? Whatever she did, she could shoot better, drive better, do everything better than a guy. Whenever the guys were in trouble, she stepped in. She wasn’t acting tough, she just was.

· If Daisy had a show now, what would it be about? Daisy goes to New York — she’s the country girl, the fish out of water, and she’s a cop. She always gets the bad guy and helps people with their self-esteem and has a wholesome, feet-on-the-earth philosophy.

· What female character on TV today reminds you of Daisy? I’m just going to tell you the people I love. Roseanne copied me, didn’t she? [laughs] She’s pretty down-to-earth. And I think Ellen DeGeneres definitely copied me. And Cybill. I think the Nanny, if she had a Southern drawl, could be like me too. I don’t know if they [really] ripped me off, but I like them.

· Do people ever confuse you with Barbara Bach? Oh, yeah. They say, ”You’re married to Ringo!” He refers to me as his long-lost wife whenever we see each other.

· What was the hardest thing about wearing those shorts? Keeping them zipped. Originally they wanted me to wear a checkered skirt to match the checkered tablecloths at the Boar’s Nest, and white vinyl boots that were up to my knees. I said, ”You guys are nuts. That’s not only dorky, it’s kind of degrading.”