It may be the end of western civilization as many in Washington have known it.

First the Redskins went out on strike.

Now the U.S. Office of Government Ethics {OGE} is interpreting a 1965 executive order to mean that it is illegal for any employe of the executive branch -- from the president down to typists and custodians -- to be taken out to breakfast, lunch, cocktails, dinner or any other one-on-one social event by reporters, editors, lobbyists and business executives on an expense account.

The ban already applies to the members and staffs of the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Home Loan Bank, according to yesterday's issue of Communications Daily, a newsletter on the telecommunications industry. But it soon will apply to everyone in the executive branch, although not to members of the legislative and judicial branches.

"We're going to put out a government-wide advisory that under a long-time executive order if you're an employe of the executive department and someone wants to take you to lunch or dinner on his expense account solely because of your position in the government, you shouldn't do it," said Gary Davis, chief counsel of the OGE. "We're operating under Executive Order 11222 of 1965, which is aimed at preventing any government employe from benefiting from his or her position as well as the appearance of wrongdoing."

The OGE move began about a year ago when the FCC decided it should tighten its guidelines for commissioners and staff members socializing with media representatives and businesses that were licensed by the FCC or otherwise had an interest in its rulings. The FCC forbade one-on-one expense-account socializing with "prohibited sources," those who had an interest in the commission's workings, and approved attendance of legitimate group social events only if the per capita cost would be $35 or less, according to FCC general counsel Diane S. Killory.

Last Monday, the FCC sought another advisory opinion on the $35 lid because "we often had lawyers spending all day tracking down who would be at a particular event and what the cost was likely to be and found ourselves approving $34 per capita events and vetoing $36 ones," Killory said.

The OGE advised the commission that such a specific lid wasn't necessary and that it could approve attendance of group events "on a case-by-case basis and it should use 'non-lavish' as the guideline," Davis said.

The OGE also decided to advise FCC and the rest of the executive branch that Executive Order 11222 prohibits all executive department employes from letting any journalists, lobbyists or private business executives, not just "prohibited sources," pick up the tab for one-on-one meals or other social events on their expense accounts.

The reaction of expense account restaurateurs was predictable.

"Power lunches, power dinners, that's what we're in the restaurant business for," said restaurant owner Mel Krupin. "If we can't do business, why should we pay the property taxes and other taxes we have to? One dinner out won't hurt anybody in this administration."

Randy Zeibert of Duke Zeibert's agreed: "First they do the tax thing {allowing only 80 percent deduction of expense account meals} and what it does is stop money from circulating and slow the economy. Tips are less, we don't buy as much food and it cuts the sales tax receipts. With the Redskins on strike we had fewer waiters and busboys than normal working last Sunday, and now this."