Capital Steps - Washington's Singing Satirists

THE Capitol Steps are the singing satirists who take bipartisan jabs at Democrats and Banana Republicans, conservatives and liberals, the Defense Department and stuffed ducks. Until now the Capitol Steps have been one of Washington, D.C.'s, most popular but unregistered lethal weapons. Tonight, however, they go national for the first time in their own half-hour program on PBS at 8 p.m.

The Republic may never be the same. The Steps make merry coleslaw of ``The Rain in Spain'' number from ``My Fair Lady,'' with their hit ``Immense Expense Is Mainly in Defense.'' Celebrity gigs include one by Rep. Pat Schroeder (D) of Colorado, who tangos across the stage to sing the line, ``By George, we've got it!'' with the Steps.

Another top banana is born in bearded Dr. C. Everett Koop, who introduces the show in his dress whites by warning, ``The Surgeon General has determined that you are about to see could be extremely dangerous to your health. The Capitol steps will cause your sides to split.'' Former Surgeon General Koop, who has campaigned for ``safe sex'' using condoms in an age of AIDS, also appears in a musical skit titled ``Safe Satire,'' in which the Steps sing of ``shrink-wrapping'' the Washington Monument.

At the taping of the show in a downtown club, the audience laughed up a storm over a parody of the disco song ``Stayin' Alive,'' which twits Vice President Quayle and the necessity for keeping President Bush healthy with ``Keep Him Alive.'' Talented lawyer-comic Dave Werner, who does an anticly funny George Bush, also sings ``I'm a Contra Boy'' country style, in tennis whites with racket.

In ``Off With Their HUDs,'' a send up of the HUD scandal, and ``Drug Czar Us,'' the Steps get off the kind of zingers that political Washington revels in. That may be because the Capitol Steps are all political insiders themselves, some of them still working in Capitol Hill offices, others recent graduates of congressional jobs that have honed their satire.

The Steps began in 1981 as improvised entertainment at a party in the office of former Sen. Charles Percy (R) of Illinois.

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