MEMBERS of the House of Representatives lined up on Thursday to take the floor and give their support to a long-overdue measure banning all gifts and free trips from companies and their armies of lobbyists. Enid Waldholtz, first-term Congresswoman from Utah, was not among them. Members look hypocritical enough whenever they promise to reform the lobbying system, or fix the corrupt procedures which fill their bottomless campaign coffers. Mrs Waldholtz would have looked even more out of place during the debate, given that the FBI had only the day before quizzed her over nearly US$2 million (about HK$15.5 million) in campaign irregularities and had issued a warrant for the arrest of her husband, who had disappeared. Three months before, life had been rosy for Mrs Waldholtz. She had just given birth to her and hubby Joe's first child, and was a rising star among last year's bright-eyed new Republican intake. She has that squeaky-clean Salt Lake City family values-look which is guaranteed to secure promotion in Newt Gingrich's army of neo-conservatives. Now, however, she has filed for divorce, applied to regain her maiden name, and is desperate to get the Feds off her back and on to to that of Joe: the errant spouse finally turned up on Friday in Philadelphia. Of most interest is how, a couple of weeks before her election last November, Mrs Waldholtz' campaign was suddenly boosted by US$1.8 million, which enabled her to mount a TV blitz which propelled her to victory. She has told investigators that Joe, who was her campaign manager - bad choice, Enid - virtually stole US$4 million from her stockbroker father by borrowing it in return for a portfolio of real estate which never existed. If that were not enough, the Waldholtzes were almost evicted from their US$3,800 a month Georgetown home (which used to belong to Henry Kissinger) because several months' rent cheques bounced higher than a Michael Jordan slam dunk. The juiciest details of the mystery may finally come to light now Joe is in handcuffs. Mrs Waldholtz claims total innocence, a fact seemingly mitigated by the latest revelation - that Joe was sacked once before from a senior Republican job for financial irregularities. Nevertheless, many observers think she has little chance of repairing her image in time for next year's re-election campaign. The local Salt Lake City paper has the knives out, with an editorial arguing that she has no right to pass the buck on to her husband. 'Such a take is an insult to the intelligence of her constituents,' it said. EVEN squeaky-clean, tree-hugging Vice-President Al Gore is having a spot of bother. It stems from he and wife Tipper's annual Halloween party. The bash may be the soiree for the A-list to gain admission to, but this year's event truly was a horror for the nation's second couple. When they asked an old friend who works for Walt Disney to fix them up with Beauty and the Beast costumes, it seems the entire Disney operation went into meltdown in an effort to please. It obtained the Gores' precise measurements, ran up custom-made outfits and flew them to the capital with a company designer and makeup artist in tow. The Vice-President never offered to pay and Mickey Mouse didn't ask him to. Until, that is, the Washington Post got wind of the costume drama and pointed out that in soliciting a gift from a firm with regulatory issues before Congress, Gore had possibly violated federal ethics regulations. Disney suddenly decided to send him a bill, but Gore still managed to charge it to the Democratic Party's national organisation on the pretext that his Halloween bash is a legitimate expense. Sounds like a trick and treat. IT never ceases to amaze this writer that the land which invented political correctness could also produce a line of 'family restaurants' in which the waitresses wear next to nothing, and which takes its name from a slang word meaning a pair of Dolly Parton-esque breasts. The restaurant in question, Hooters, has an owl for its logo, which of course fools nobody - especially the wives and mothers-in-law who seem content to accompany their men to eat spare ribs at this flourishing bastion of chauvinism. Some of its female staff were wearing rather more than usual last week - kitted out against the Washington winter - when they were sent to lobby against the government's attempt to drag them into the PC 1990s. The Equal Opportunities Commission had ruled that Hooters - whose 172 branches earned over US$300 million last year - broke the law by denying men access to certain jobs, not least that of waiting on tables. The company responded by running full-page advertisements in the national press, featuring a mustached gorilla-like man in a skimpy Hooters outfit, proclaiming that this was what the bureaucrats wanted the famous Hooters Girl to turn into. The company claims it is doing nothing more than employ staff that fit its theme - like French waiters in a French restaurant. The commission may now sue on behalf of a group of men denied work at Hooters. Our advice would be: get a life, get a proper job, and if you cannot stay away from the place, order the ribs.