The Writers Guild didn't need to hurry back to work last week, daytime TV had more drama than ever. Drama, celebrity, drugs, perjury, and Henry Waxman; who could imagine such a twisted plot? Of course I'm talking about the House Oversight Committee's hearing on steroids in baseball. Better than any soap opera or reality TV, it aired February 13th on C-Span with Roger Clemens as the leading man and self-proclaimed victim, Brian McNamee as the personal trainer who scorned Clemens with steroid accusations, and some lawyer guy who didn't really do much of anything. All three were cross-examined for hours by members of the House of Representatives. I'm not exaggerating when I say, it was riveting.
It all stems back to the Mitchell Report and allegations by McNamee naming MLB players he'd personally injected with steroids and HGH. Other players have confirmed the allegations, but Roger Clemens took his former trainer to DC to clear his good name; and entertain the hell out of those of us who watched.
Clemens says he's never used steroids, but in his opening statement he admits to being guilty of another offense: "If I am guilty of anything, it is of being too trusting of others; wanting to see the best in everyone; and being nice to everyone." (Surely that can't be against the law. Poor Roger!)
McNamee also admits to his personal shortcomings in his opening statement: "...I have always been loyal to a fault, a trait that has gotten me into trouble in the past." (Well that doesn't sound so bad!)
What followed was a hearing, several hours long, with both men telling conflicting stories. It was a major-league whodunnit. A new gameshow: Who's lying under oath? with your host, Congressman Henry Waxman!
As absurd as it was, the "who cares?" element helped make it entertaining. Instead of investigating the many allegations of waste, fraud, and abuse by our government, the House Oversight Committee brought in major league doofs to find out who lied in the investigation commissioned by Bud Selig (the Commissioner of Major Legue Baseball,) and conducted by George Mitchell, (a former Senator, but also on the Board of Directors of the Boston Red Sox.) I can't imagine why anyone would take this seriously. Clearly, the Committee just wanted to entertain us after the writers strike. Bless their hearts.
Throughout the hearing, Clemens goes into several self-congratulatory monologues about how much he loves America, his hard work and humble childhood (he didn't have a car, he ran to school every day! Was it uphill both ways like my dad?) Through it all, he just shrugged and scratched his head. He just couldn't understand why his friend would do this to him since he's such a good person. It was Vitamin B-12 in Clemens' syringes, his wife's the one who used steroids.
McNamee comes across as a huge dirtbag. He's been saving syringes and gauze with players' DNA (just in case?), and still calls himself a Doctor after receiving his PhD from an unaccredited University. (An online University that moves from state to state. According to their website, tuition is based by program, and total tuition for a Doctorate is $2,295.) So, he calls himself a Doctor b/c he bought a fake degree, and he calls himself a successful trainer b/c he gives his players steroids. He said he was sorry.
The entire hearing was a tangled web of Major League baseball stars, nanny stories, and lawyers jumping up and shouting from the audience. The Republicans were unimpressed with McNamee. My favorite exchange was with Rep. Chris Shays of CT, who offended McNamee by calling him a drug dealer.
McNamee: That's your opinion.
Shays: No, it's not my opinion... Tell me how it's legal to do illegal things and not call it what you were. You were dealing in drugs, weren't you?
McNamee: I'm dealing in them, yes.
Shays: Were they legal drugs?
McNamee: No they weren't
Shays: Thank you.
If the whole thing wasn't so entertaining, I may have been a bit depressed. The Democratic majority promised to do oversight, and this was an unimportant hearing with (at least) one person openly lying to Congress. Last year the Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to Bush administration officials who ignored them. If the committees are going to be ineffective, at least they're keeping us entertained. Next, they should investigate that "Titan" guy from American Gladiators. I'm not saying he does steroids, but after the finale on Sunday, I heard he stuffed Helga into the slingshot and launched her across the studio.