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THE 104TH CONGRESS : Gingrich's Gavel Sends a Signal to New Political Power Rangers : Capitol Hill: 'Newt!' the triumphant new Speaker is cheered. Freshman lawmakers, talk show hosts, other super-heroes are in their glory.


Rather, she added, a melancholy mood washed over her as she sat on the House floor, a sense that it would have been only a "hypocritical motion" to celebrate when she clearly felt otherwise.

While all this ruckus was going on, the Senate was much more subdued, as is its custom. The members were sworn in by Vice President Al Gore in groups of four or five and then the upper body broke for lunch.

Capitol tours went on as usual, although the numbers were smaller and security much tighter than normal. Hoban Yoon, a visitor from Seoul, said that he was aware that Wednesday was the opening day of the new Congress and that he had heard "a different party had gained power."

"We thought there was a special ceremony or show--but we didn't have an invitation," Yoon said as he craned to view the fresco on the ceiling of the Capitol dome.

Toward the end of a long day, Gingrich arrived late at the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria for the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers show, where the rainbow-suited characters who "morph" into high-tech super-heroes to defeat futuristic villains cartwheeled and signed autographs for about 300 school-aged children of members and staff.

After going through their high-kicking, fist-throwing and crime-fighting television show routine, the Power Rangers stood, arms akimbo, as Gingrich rushed onto the stage.

Linking the Power Rangers' popularity with youngsters to his appeal with their parents, he noted that their emphasis on "family values" and "anti-drug" messages fit nicely with GOP political themes. And, he added, "they are multiethnic role models with male and female characters."

Times staff writers Michael Ross and Melissa Healy contributed to this story.

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