Ric Latarski - Investigation into steroids a moment to be 'misremembered'

Stop the presses! There are apparently people in Washington, D.C., telling lies. What a, uh, shock.

Congress has initiated inquiry into performance enhancing drugs in the world of baseball.

This is important stuff and I'm glad Congress isn't wasting time. To be fair, you have to remember that folks in Congress can have short attention spans - usually until the votes are counted - so we can't expect them to deal with a lot of things at once.

And to be even more fair, as long as they are focused on baseball, they might not do too much harm in some other areas.

In this case, one guy, Roger Clemens, testifies before Congress that he never used any kind of steroids or human growth hormone and that his former trainer who is accusing him, Brian McNamee, is a bald-faced liar.

McNamee takes the hot seat and swears that he absolutely injected the man who is arguably the best professional baseball pitcher of his generation with performance enhancing substances.

Having two people stand up in Washington, D.C., and give diametrically opposing stories under oath that cannot lead to any conclusion other than one of them is a liar is not new in that town.

There are people in Washington, D.C., who have gone so long without telling the truth that should honest words roll from their lips their tongues would snap off and crawl away.

When politicians fight, they always start their statements with "my good friend," even when they hate the guts of the other guy. At least Clemens has not hidden the fact he would like to rotate McNamee's facial features.

But in true Washington tradition, Clemens has already won the "Misdirection Under Oath by Vocabulary" award.

In the old days it was, "To the best of my recollection I honesty can't recall" or "I have no clear memory of the incident in question." This was usually followed by, "I plead the 5th."

Clemens said Andy Pettitte, a fellow pitcher and friend who gave sworn statements regarding their conversation about performance enhancing drugs, apparently "misremembers" those conversations. Misremembers?

If Nixon had thought to tell the Watergate Committee all those folks who talked about tapes simply "misremembered" the facts he may have a monument named after him instead of a court case.

Had Bill Clinton told everyone Monica simply "misremembered" their liaison as a sexual encounter, he might have avoided everything except a cleaning bill.

We can now expect misremembers to be embedded in the lexicon of politics, and rest assured, the next time an elected official is accused of any wrongdoing, it will be a case of someone misremembering.

"I told the lobbyists I wanted a sackful of Krystals delivered to my room after midnight and if he said I wanted a sackful of money he must be misremembering our conversation," said Congressman Onthetake.

No doubt there is a fine line between misremembering and lying, but in Washington that line is as blurry as the vision of a drunken sailor on shore leave.

Of course, misremembering may not actually be lying. Ronald Reagan could have said he misremembered anything that happened the last three years in was in office and been telling the truth.

And Ted Kennedy made misremembering into such an art form it should be a category eligible for an Academy Award.

Washington is the only place where a fact is never a fact but something that has to be watered, pruned or thrown out completely.

A member of Congress can vote on an issue one day based on the facts at hand but misremember those facts later on if that vote turns out to work against them.

But if it works in Washington it should work for me so I've already got my statement prepared: "Boss, I told you I was leaving early to play golf and have a beer and if you thought I said anything else it is obvious you have misremembered."

Right now the Great Steroid Hunt is ambling along. While someone may or may not get indicted - people will one day realize you don't lie to federal investigators no matter what is being investigated - I suspect not a lot will come from the Clemens-McNamee battle.

We know that one or both are lying about something or everything, but proving what will require hard work and deep thought, skills Congress seldom demonstrates.

What happened is history. Maybe the door to the past should be closed and baseball bosses should simply make certain it never happens again.

There was a time baseball was about the game and players acknowledging while they may have worked hard they were also blessed with a talent allowing them to live a dream most can only imagine. Now we wonder where that talent stopped and the syringe started.

Perhaps it has always been this way and the time of honor and integrity in sports never existed. After all, I could be misremembering the past.

Ric Latarski can be reached at ric.latarski@rockdalecitizen.com