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Congressional Debate Settled: Go Go Power Rangers

January 5, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Democrats finally had some fun Wednesday, although they were very little Democrats. The Republican celebration of the new Congress turned bipartisan when the Power Rangers came to town.

The karate-kicking teen-age superheroes entertained children of members of Congress, staffers and anyone else who found out about the appearance in a cafeteria of a House office building.

Promoted by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the visit was a bit of an in-your-face response to critics who have called the TV show too violent and said it incites kids to play roughly.

He showed up long enough to hail the back-flipping martial arts experts as ``multiethnic role models.″ In the show, six teen-agers _ among them one black, one Hispanic, one Korean, two females _ transform themselves into helmeted fighters against evil.

Gingrich won bipartisan but not unanimous support for his position.

``I can’t believe that the grownups and teachers and parents are saying it’s violent,″ said Stephen White, godson of Democratic Rep. Charles Wilson of Texas and a blue belt in tae kwon do.

``If you call the Power Rangers violent, then you must call the Roadrunner show, like, a disaster.″

But Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said choosing to promote the Power Rangers showed a disregard for American workers.

``Not one Mighty Morphin Power Ranger is made in the U.S.A.,″ Kaptur said. ``Check the label; they are produced by the Bandai Co., a huge Japanese conglomerate.″

The several hundred children, for the most part, withheld any scrappy tendencies.

But Nicholas Webb, 7, son of a constituent of Republican Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, did a cartwheel, then a split, and couldn’t get up.

``He breaks easy,″ worried his father, Dennis.

Nicholas then delivered a series of karate chops on his interviewer. Still excited, he gave up on the martial arts and started to shake his feet. ``I can tap dance good, too.″

``Calm down,″ his father said.

Actors who play the Rangers are in Australia making a movie. The squad at Congress was from a California troupe that tours the country.

Looking uncertain about the whole thing was Alexandra Petri, 6, daughter of Rep. Thomas Petri of Wisconsin. She’d never seen the show, just heard about it ``from the boys.″

As dutiful Republicans, Thomas and Anne Petri have been focusing instead on other cultural references being pitched these days by Gingrich, including the movie about orphanages.

``We watched `Old Town’ at Christmas,″ Anne said. ``Or, whatever it’s called. `Boys Town.‴

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