Roger Clemens Was No Saint, But Federal Indictment Is a Bit Over the Top


August 19, 2010

Roger Clemens Was No Saint, But Federal Indictment Is a Bit Over the Top It's a tired argument to say that the government has too many problems to spend so much time, energy and taxpayer money on investigating cheating athletes, but the reason it's been repeated so many times is that it's undeniably true.

There are education problems, that whole oil spill fiasco, scary unemployment rates, former Illinois senators with bad hairpieces, our pets' heads are falling off … and the government is going to put Roger Clemens on trial for cheating at a game.

Of course, it's a bit more complicated than that, as he's being charged with lying under oath during Congressional hearings in February 2008. No, you shouldn't lie to Congress, and yes, you should probably get in trouble for doing so. But if this whole show seems unnecessary, that's because it is.

Remember, this is the same federal government with members who asked for Clemens' autograph when he stopped by for that little chat.

It is, in one word, a joke, if for no other reason than the futility of it all. It seems 300 percent obvious that Clemens took some performance-enhancing drugs, but it seems 6 million percent clear that so did hundreds of other players. Jose Canseco, who's explained his steroid use in great detail, is out mashing bombs in the Texas sun, while Clemens is facing a federal indictment.

It's also a joke because Clemens responded to the news via Twitter. He sounded like a pitcher facing a tough lineup, and not a man facing federal charges.

"I never took HGH or Steroids," he wrote, capitalizing "steroids" for some strange reason. "And I did not lie to Congress. I look forward to challenging the Governments accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial. I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court."

(In fairness, though, based on the way Clemens and his genius attorney, Rusty Hardin, handled that news conference in early '08, Twitter was probably his best route.)

If we're to learn anything from the Barry Bonds saga, it's that this story won't be going away any time soon. Bonds was indicted in 2007; he's set to go on trial in March 2011.

In indicting Clemens, the government is setting a standard that it won't be able to uphold. Can we get Rafael Palmeiro back? How about Sammy Sosa? Do we know that Curt Schilling was telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth when he headed to Capitol Hill?

And how do we know what Clemens knew about what he was taking? Based on his 60 Minutes interview, I'm pretty sure he was serious when he said that people who take steroids can pull tractors with their teeth and have third ears growing out of their foreheads. Clemens may be a cheater, but he's no Mensa candidate. Now, he might be a prisoner.

"Americans have a right to expect that witnesses who testify under oath before Congress will tell the truth," United States Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said in a statement. "Our government cannot function if witnesses are not held accountable for false statements made before Congress. Today the message is clear: if a witness makes a choice to ignore his or her obligation to testify honestly, there will be consequences."

Thank goodness our government has our best interests in mind. If it didn't pursue Clemens to the fullest extent, then frankly, the world just might stop spinning.

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