The meter had expired, but the car got no ticket at least 24 hours after my tipster reported it. No wonder, since the car bore Connecticut U.S. Senate tag 1--1, assigned to Sen. Lowell P. Weicker.

If you or I had left a car in the parking space closest to National Airport's main terminal without regard to the restrictions imposed on ordinary citizens, it would have gotten several tickets and possibly would have been towed away.

But--get this--this outrageous situation is considered legal.

The congressional pampering goes even beyond what MetroScene had imagined: Not only was Sen. Weicker's overtime parking at a short-time meter legal, according to an airport spokesman, but also if he had decided to go to a commercial lot on the airport reservation, he would have been granted free parking as a courtesy.

It all goes back to the opening of the airport in the early 1940s, the airport spokesman said with the telephone-voice equivalent of a straight face: everybody then parked free. Now, in general, only members of Congress and diplomats do. The outrage--and I mean outrage--is when they escape tickets when parking outside the lots reserved for them under conditions illegal for common folk.