Those bozos in Congress assured us their salary heist would give us better government.

Anyone who fell for that must have just tumbled off the turnip truck.Now, with the 101st Congress about to go out of business, Democratic and Republican lawmakers are noisily blaming each other for the budget deadlock.

And they have yet to complete legislation on crime, child care, clean air, civil rights, agriculture, housing and campaign finance.

If the do-little legislators lacked the guts to deal with the tough issues, don't doubt that they will have the audacity to adjourn next month in plenty of time to campaign for re-election.

And don't look for leadership from President Bush, who persists in contending falsely that cutting the tax on capital gains won't benefit the rich.

The president and his GOP allies demand a deficit-reducing plan that cuts the tax on the sale of assets such as stocks and bonds. That may spur the economy, but it also unnecessarily lines the pockets of the fat cats.

Bush, who enjoys excellent approval ratings in the polls, loftily urges the budget negotiators to accept his compromise.

Having dispatched 150,000 to deal with the crisis in the Persian Gulf region, the president can take the high road, telling Americans their nation needs "to function effectively as a great power abroad."

For their part, Democrats are left to tout a budget-cutting plan that would force the wealthy to bear more of the tax burden.

The parties still are divided on how to raise taxes and cut spending, actions now considered inevitable by just about everyone.

Meantime, there is increasing evidence that many taxpayers are mad and aren't going to take it anymore.

Jack Gargan, a petitioner in Tampa, Fla., is so enraged he buys full-page newspaper ads urging that all congressional incumbents be voted out of office.

"These congressmen have no idea how much they're hated," says Gargan.

He argues that Congress devotes most of its time and energy to raising money for re-election instead of to lawmaking.

Vowing not "to give in to these clowns," Gargan urges Americans to "rise up and vote every incumbent senator and congressman out of office."

The voters may do that when they realize that even if budget negotiators somehow come up with a feasible deficit-reduction package, the nation still will be saddled with about $200 billion in red ink.

The negotiators are trying to shape a deal to cut the deficit $50 billion next year and $500 billion over the next five.

If no deal is struck by Oct. 1 by the weak-kneed negotiators trying to cover their butts, there will be automatic across-the-board spending cuts of $105.7 billion, split between defense and domestic programs.

If the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings wrecking ball devastates vital public services, the incumbents will find there will be hell to pay at the polls out there in the real world beyond the Washington Beltway.