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Desperation pitch

Clemens' celebrity won't save him if he lies

Posted: Monday February 11, 2008 2:58PM; Updated: Monday February 11, 2008 4:24PM
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Roger Clemens and Rusty Hardin
Roger Clemens and his lawyer Rusty Hardin visited Congress last week in advance of Wednesday's hearing.
Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images News

About the only thing Roger Clemens may have going for him these days is his celebrity, which is why I don't entirely blame him for his Campaign Across Congress, a tour meant to lobby for his no-steroid story with the aid of autographs and pictures.

My source in Congress said he couldn't swear that the signatures and pictures went to actual congressmen, not just secretaries and other office workers. But you get the idea.

A lawyer friend of mine called Clemens' meet-and-greet sessions "unseemly.'' I call it America, the land of two types of people: the celebrities and the celebrity crazed.

But when Clemens gets to the long-awaited hearing on Wednesday, he better have more than signatures and photo ops for the folks connected to the committee. Because in the end, truth will rule the day.

Brian McNamee has a story of injecting Clemens 16 times with steroids and HGH that former Sen. George Mitchell found compelling. People who have spoken to McNamee say he wrote an opening draft for a statement that will pull no punches, and that McNamee has told friends he wants to be seated next to Clemens.

Clemens is used to all sorts of folks rolling over for him. But that won't happen here, no matter how many autographs he signed on his meet-and-greet session.

Clemens has been interviewed hundreds of times in his career. But McNamee is a former New York City cop. So Clemens shouldn't count on McNamee choking on his words, either.

It is true that Clemens' meet-and-greet tour already did produce one Lance Ito moment, which is what occurs when a person in authority is thoroughly snowed by celebrity. Following Clemens' fleshing-pressing session, Rep. Edolphus Towns, (D-NY) came away sounding like a fawning Yankees fan in the New York Times, declaring what a swell guy Clemens is, and that McNamee himself better be on the lookout for perjury charges.

But my guess is that these were just the sentiments of one star-struck congressmen. Committee chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) has struck me as a serious person, not some fawning fan. The same goes for Tom Davis (R-VA) and the rest of the other 40 who aren't Towns.

If he thinks he can get a majority of congressmen to roll over for him, he should think hard about that. They already showed they are willing to play hardball with a star when they recommended the Justice Department investigate Miguel Tejada, who told them back in 2005 he never took performance-enhancing drugs and didn't know of anyone who did, for possible perjury.

In the end, the question isn't whether Clemens can act like a groovy guy in a meet and greet, or sign a few baseballs; it's whether an American hero perjured himself, which is serious business.

Which means Clemens has got a lot to overcome here. Because, as lawyers say, he's got a bad set of facts.

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