So Much Hooey On The Hill

HOUSE GOP ROOKIES are making plenty of preposterous pronouncements. Representative Fred Heineman (R-N.C.) recently rewrote economics textbooks by declaring that middle-class people earn between $300,000 and $750,000 a year. With a congressional salary and cop pensions totaling $180,000, the former Raleigh police chief placed himself in the lower-middle class. After Democrats ridiculed him, Heineman took to the House floor to insist his estimates "were accurate for me and others like me."

Mark Souder (R-Ind.) ticked off colleagues by saying that cult leader David Koresh violated the law only by having sex "with consenting minors....Do you send tanks and government troops into the large sections mf Kentucky and Tennessee and other places where such things occur?" Souder, who holds Dan Quayle's old House seat, apologized after bipartisan howls of outrage.

Then there's Frank Cremeans (R-Ohio), opposing premarital sex because "marriage is a very sanctimonious commitment." During the 1994 campaign, he said AIDS was a possible explanation for the Roman Empire's fall.

It's always a problem adjusting to the spotlight, but gaffes are harder to find among freshman Democrats. One reason: GOP newcomers outnumber Dems by more than 5-1.

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