Welcome back to the Deadspin Guest Lecture Series. Each week, we’ll be bringing in various luminaries from the world of sports - players, coaches, and MORE! - to speak to you folks directly. This week, it’s California Congressman and Roger Clemens’ own personal Inspector Javert, Henry Waxman.
I’ve received a handful of complaints from people recently asking me why I, and Congress as a whole, continue to pursue Roger Clemens and the rest of Major League Baseball for the truth regarding performance-enhancing drugs in the sport. I’ve gotten letters from aggrieved constituents telling me that Congress is wasting time and money, and that we should be working on other “more important matters,” such as the war, health care, and so on.
Let me first address those concerns by saying that I believe Congress is already directing plenty of attention towards Iraq, the subprime mortgage crisis and other pressing matters, thank you very much. There ARE over 200 of us, you know. We are able to handle more than one thing at a time. In fact, that’s what we’re here for. Just because I want to hold both Clemens and baseball accountable for their shared history of steroid use does not mean I am unable to address other issues. We have not, I repeat NOT, pursued this inquiry at the expense of everything else.
As a matter of fact, given that this problem was allowed to fester in the sport for so long, I’d say we were a bit lax in addressing it, probably because of those other “more important” things. This epidemic goes as far back as the 70's. So I regret the fact that we have only gotten around to it just now. Had we been more vigilant, all this would not have been necessary today.
Secondly, it is clear to me that Mr. Clemens was not forthcoming in the least when he delivered his testimony here at Capitol Hill last month. Are we, as a Congress, simply supposed to let that slide? If someone, under oath, is evasive and downright dishonest with us, regardless of the matter, is it right for us to simply ignore it because it’s not important enough?
Perhaps you find this matter to be trivial. That’s fine. I’m happy to grant you that, much as I may disagree. But I do not believe that the direness of the subject is relevant here. What is relevant is that this man, Mr. Clemens, lied to us. And to let him get away with it would be setting a terrible example for the rest of the nation. Are we supposed to allow perjury on a subjective basis? I submit that would be a grave error. What would then keep others from lying to Congress in hopes of a similar free pass?
You see, I know Mr. Clemens lied to us. He gave testimony that directly contradicted that of his personal trainer, whose testimony was far more concrete. He also gave testimony that directly contradicted the testimony of a former teammate who had absolutely no reason to lie. It is clear to me, and other members of Congress that Mr. Clemens has established a consistent pattern of dishonesty. He is a compulsive liar, who repeatedly evades the truth as a way to avoid having to deal with his own flaws as a human being. It’s so crystal clear. I know he took steroids. I know he took HGH.
And, most all, I know that asshole knows what a vegan is.
You may have found it a bit silly when Congressman Bruce Braley asked Clemens if he had ever been a vegetarian or a vegan. But I think Clemens’ answer gives us a perfect look at his complete and utter disingenuousness.
“I don’t know what that is. I’m sorry.”
Oh, really? No clue what a vegan is? This from a gentleman who played in New York City FOR SIX YEARS? He’s never even heard the term? I’m sorry, but that is bullshit. The man is 45 years old and has never seen that term used on a restaurant menu, or on a TV show, or in a magazine, or on the news, or in a movie, or at AT&T Park in San Francisco, for God’s sake? No teammate ever joked about vegans with him?
Look, I’ll give you that veganism is a fairly new phenomenon. But it’s not some underground movement, like mopery. Vegans have been out there prominently since the 90's. We even have them in Congress. Barney Frank gave me a taste of stir fried tempeh the other day. I thought it tasted like a particularly nutty bowel movement, but I lied and told him it was delicious. There are vegan actors, too. Familiar with little actress known as ALICIA SILVERSTONE, Mr. Clemens?
Your story is unraveling faster than a vegan family rehearsal dinner at Ruth’s Chris.
All Mr. Clemens had to do was say, “No, I’m not a vegan,” to Congressman Braley, and I think we all would have believed him. He’s a big conservative fella. I’m sure he’s not spending time mixing new blends with Moby over at teany. But instead, Mr. Clemens had to go way overboard and pretend he didn’t even know what a vegan was, just so he could look like a real man’s man.
I understand this, under certain circumstances. Sometimes, when I’m watching the TV with my wife and “Access Hollywood” comes on, my wife will ask me, “Who are those two people?” and I’ll pretend I don’t know. Oh, I know that’s Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon, and that my girl Spoon only got with Jake after being on the rebound from Ryan, and that Jake may be gay after being caught with Austin Nichols at a Lakers game the other week. I know this stuff. I read People when I go to the dermatologist’s office. I just don’t tell my wife I know because, well, it just seems a bit girly. If that makes me insecure, so be it.
But I certainly wouldn’t lie to Congress about Reese and Jake.
You see, what you saw on television from Mr. Clemens’ testimony is only part of the story. Congressman Braley and I had a private, off-the-record session with Mr. Clemens prior to the hearing. Here were some of the questions we asked, and some of Clemens’ answers:
Question: Have you ever eaten puff pastry?
Clemens: I don’t even know what that is.
Question: Do you own any Cole Haan shoes?
Clemens: I don’t even know who that is.
Question: Have you ever purchased anything at Sephora?
Clemens: I don’t even know where that is.
Question: Are you a fan of Rugkazbah?
Clemens: I don’t even know what that is. My mom might know.
You see the pattern of deceit here?! This is man who is not only willing to lie, but has a steadfast determination to avoid the truth at all costs. He has done this at the expense of teammates, friends and even his own family. So don’t tell me that exposing him is a useless kind of exercise for the American public. This is the same kind of pathological lying that corrupts every aspect of our society, whether it be baseball, or war, or anything else. And Congress is determined to put a stop to it.
Because that asshole has totally seen a Not Dog before.