WASHINGTON, DC–Following up on a Sept. 20 report that there is "something really creepy about the place," Congress established an investigative panel Monday to find out just what's going on up at the old Parker mansion.

The creepy Parker mansion.

"Old Man Parker just disappeared one day, and ever since, all sorts of strange noises have been coming from up there," Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) said. "And I heard from one of the fellas in the General Accounting Office that there's a ton of old pirate doubloons up there. We've got to go up there and check it out."

After three hours of congressional debate, it was decided that the investigative panel would consist of Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), because he's a real leader; Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), because he's small and good at sneaking into tight spots; and Rep. Steve Largent (R-OK), because, as a former NFL player, he's the most athletic member of Congress.

After complaining long and hard about not being chosen, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was warned repeatedly not to follow the panel up Crooked Hill to the mansion, because it was too dangerous for a girl, and she would just slow them down.

"She'd better not follow us up there," Reed said. "That old mansion doesn't have any lights, and there are a lot of rotten floorboards."

"And they say," added Reed, becoming quieter, "you can still see strange lights up there some nights, like Old Man Parker is still up there. Or..."

"If the distinguished senator from Rhode Island is trying to scare me, it won't work," interrupted Lott, banging his speaker's gavel. "All that stuff about Old Man Parker's ghost is just a lot of baloney and you know it."

The exploratory committee plans to meet in the apple orchard on Friday, after Congress lets out. The group will then wait until nightfall before approaching the creepy, Victorian-style mansion.

"We have to be extra-careful not to be seen, because Mr. Clinton doesn't like us poking our noses into spooky, suspicious stuff," Largent said. "He says it's too dangerous for federal legislators to investigate, and that it's [FBI director Louis] Freeh's job, so we should leave well enough alone. But is Freeh gonna go investigate a haunted house?"

Lott reluctantly conducts a full-scale investigation of the White House basement last October.

"There's no such thing as ghosts, anyway," said Lott, checking the batteries in his flashlight. "It always turns out to be marsh gas or a crazy old hobo or Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) in a sheet or something. Remember when we solved the Case Of The Phantom Of The Strategic Petroleum Reserves? Some phantom! It was just old [Energy Secretary] Bill Richardson's parrot mimicking an oil tanker's foghorn!"

Reed then reminded Lott that he "sure was scared" during a recent fact-finding mission to the eerie boathouse on the Potomac River. Just moments after Lott's oft-checked flashlight batteries failed, he lost his spectacles, leaving him alone in the dark with a "giant bat" later revealed to be a loose, windblown shutter.

"I think there really might be treasure up there," said Reed, whose home state of Rhode Island, the nation's smallest, is a place where a few Spanish pirate doubloons would go a long way. "The Widow Adams once told me that Old Man Parker went to sea a lot in his youth, and that late one night during a big storm, she saw him bring an old sea-chest into the house. I bet it's full of gold."

"The gold isn't the point," Largent said. "The point is to find out what's going on up there, and what's making those lights, and what happened to Old Man Parker. If we have to camp out all night in that place to find out, that's what we'll do."

The panel is urging Congress to increase federal funding for the expedition, which will require a length of rope, extra flashlight batteries, three bottles of grape soda, and a jackknife. As of Tuesday, the trio had collected from Congress $4.74 million and a slingshot.

"Gee," Lott said, "this slingshot sure will come in handy if we see Old Man Parker's ghost."

"Or if Dianne shows up," added Reed, needling Lott. The senate majority leader was embarrassed this spring when he fled in terror from Feinstein, whom he had mistaken for the Creature From The Congressional Library. Lott's embarrassment only grew when the California senator pulled the candlestick in the Lincoln Bedroom, revealing the secret passage that ultimately led to the solving of the case.