Nancy Thurmond came with a quorum of children--16, in fact, rounded up from McLean and Washington and ranging from 11-year-old Nancy Moore Thurmond to 2-year-old Paul Trible III. Had someone thought to take a vote in the Kennedy Center Atrium, it would have been unanimous: Jim Henson's "Fraggle Rock," a new muppetty musical fantasy series (it's seen only on HBO), is "funny . . . nice . . . fine . . . great."

These were some of the words slowly dredged from several dozen congressional kids who'd just attended a special screening in the AFI Theatre. Sufficiently antsy in anticipation (George Stevens got a big laugh when he began with, "we're going to wait until everybody's quiet"), they were more caucus than raucous at the goody-laden reception afterward; then again, "no comment" was the province of children long before it was the property of politicians.

Henson, looking like he'd just stepped out of his American Express Card commercial, had been described earlier as "the creator of the Muppets . . . some people think he is The Creator." "Do you have to be a child to ask for an autograph?" asked one fan. Of course not, said the voice of Kermit the Frog.

Nancy Thurmond, accompanied by Rosemary Trible, wife of the new senator from Virginia, seemed unwinded. "We do frequent things like this that we involve the families in, but it's not frequent enough. I think all of the Senate families would say they'd like to see more of it." The sentiment was echoed by Marilynn Oberstar, who attended with her husband, James, a Democratic congressman from Minnesota, and two of their children, 5-year-old Monica Rose and 9-year-old Anne-Therese. "It's nice because congressional families are rarely able to do things together," said Marilynn Oberstar.

Also in attendance were the children of White House staffers Michael Deaver and James A. Baker, while Sen. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.) and his wife Marilyn brought their three children, Tucker, 8, Benjamin, 6, and Corinne, 4. "I feel a little like a fish out of water," the senator said. "I only see two other fathers here." He noted how well the children behaved during the speeches and also remembered an embarassing moment. "The last speech Benjamin heard me deliver was about a year or two ago in Indiana and he stuck his fingers in his ears during the speech. And it made all the wires; he got more coverage than I did.