Candice Bergen says Dan Quayle was right. The former ''Murphy Brown'' star says she agreed with the ex-vice president's contention that fathers are indispensable

Now she tells us. Ten years ago, when then-Vice President Dan Quayle notoriously criticized Candice Bergen’s Murphy Brown character for ”mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another ‘lifestyle choice,”’ the actress had little to say about the matter, even as others argued over whether the popular ”Murphy Brown” sitcom was really setting a bad example or whether Quayle was just trying to make hay during an election year by criticizing the entertainment industry. Yesterday, however, Bergen told a gathering of TV critics that Quayle had a point.

Bergen was attending the annual summer critics’ confab in Pasadena to promote her new Oxygen series, ”Candice Checks It Out,” in which she interviews non-celebrities on their own turf, but what reporters really wanted to check out were her thoughts on the decade-old Quayle quote. ”I never have really said much about the whole episode, which was endless,” the Associated Press quotes her as saying. ”But his speech was a perfectly intelligent speech about fathers not being dispensable and nobody agreed with that more than I did.”

Still, Bergen couldn’t resist a tweak at the former veep, who marked the 10th anniversary of his speech with a surprising address a couple months ago, in which he praised ”The Osbournes” — incessant profanity and mock-Satanic metal theatrics aside, they presented a ”loving” example of family values on TV, Quayle said. ”That Dan, you just can’t predict him,” Bergen said yesterday. ”I think that all of us feel that family values have to sort of come back front and center. I don’t know if he watched ‘The Osbournes’ because he certainly never watched ‘Murphy Brown,’ which didn’t stop him from talking about it.”

Asked whether she’d ever interview Quayle on her show, Bergen said no, explaining, ”I just thought it was better to take the high road there.”