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Thursday, March 10, 2005
Updated: March 14, 5:59 PM ET
Congress can't be serious

By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

Please, let them dig up the corpse of Sen. Joseph McCarthy so he can participate in this made-for-TV Congressional circus. Please.

"Sir, are you, or have you ever been, a member of the BALCO party?"

This is absolutely ridiculous.

Barry Bonds
Think it's just coincidence that all this is happening as Barry Bonds is about to pass Babe Ruth?
Barry Bonds is closing in on America's most cherished (non)record -- Babe Ruth's 714 career home runs -- and now the boys in our Capitol want to do their part in discrediting Bonds, stealing a significant portion of the media spotlight and pandering to the hypocritical morality police, a group that loves a good fund-raiser.

So on March 17, the first day of Dick Vitale's Big Dance, a Congressional committee plans to interrogate seemingly everyone mentioned in Jose Canseco's juicy book except Barry Bonds and George W. Bush. What a freaking coincidence? Politicians get involved in a media-inspired witch-hunt just before Barry passes Babe. Members of the House just might ask Sammy Sosa to pee in a cup.

And we're not supposed to call this B.S? We're not supposed to see this for what it is? It's a publicity stunt. It's an end-zone celebration so cheap and tasteless that even Terrell Owens and Randy Moss are embarrassed.

If there are two things we know, it's that: 1.) You can't legislate morality and 2.) Big government involvement is rarely the solution to any problem.

MORE ON STERIOIDS
Page 2's Skip Bayless says if a Congressional hearing is what it's going to take to get the truth about steroids, then let's do it.
But my peers in the media are so happy. On Wednesday, the "Around the Horn" guys screamed that our elected officials better ask the invited and subpoenaed players the million-dollar question.

"Sir, are you, or have you ever been, a member of the BALCO party?"

Remember, this is about sending a message to the kids. Or, at least, that's what Rep. Tom Davis said -- unbelievably -- on "Cold Pizza" the other day. The House is doing this to let kids know that our government is fed up with professional athletes who cheat by using steroids, and that performance-enhancing drugs are dangerous. They're bringing in at least two families that have lost sons because of steroid abuse.

Well, on March 18, I hope there's a Congressional hearing on professional sports' unholy alliance with the adult beverage industry. There isn't a building on the planet that could house all the families whose children's lives have been destroyed by the abuse of alcohol. Come on, pro sports are nothing more than a three-hour excuse to run beer and erection commercials. The two strongest, most negative messages kids pick up from jocks (entertainers) are to drink to get drunk, and to sleep with as many groupies as possible.

But we're cool with that, right? We only live once. Let's address steroids. Let's address a rather gray area that we really don't know much about. And let's address it just weeks before Barry goes after Babe. Let's address it shortly after Major League Baseball matches the NFL and unveils a make-believe policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Never mind the fact that, in some form, performance-enhancing drugs are in every sport played for big money. Never mind the fact that we're watching football players grow and muscle-up at a rate twice as fast as baseball players, but we believe the NFL has its drug problem under control.

This whole madness is about Babe Ruth. If Barry was sitting on 600, we'd still be talking about the juiced baseball, not juiced players. The farce of not subpoenaing Bonds makes this whole charade even more transparent.

Am I pro-steroids? Hell no.

I'm anti-stupidity. I'm anti-another stupid "war on drugs" in the name of saving our children. And that's what this is turning into, another simple-minded morality issue that gets people out to donate and vote and fills up our prisons.

Have you looked around your suburban or urban neighborhood? Have you talked to your kids?

We have prisons full of drug offenders, and we have more and more young people abusing drugs and alcohol. A government-led war on steroids or performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports will be counterproductive. You just can't legislate morality. The leagues have to police themselves.

Of course, if you believe Canseco -- and I do -- the leagues have no real interest in policing performance-enhancing drugs. The owners pay the players millions of dollars and they want the players out on the field entertaining fans.

Rather than calling players to testify, I'd like to see the House subpoena former Texas Rangers general managing partner George W. Bush. Canseco claims that Bush and other MLB owners had to know that players were juicing. It strikes me as odd that Mr. Bush didn't develop a law-and-order passion against steroids until after he left the Rangers' office for the Oval Office.

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for the Kansas City Star. His newspaper is celebrating his 10 years as a columnist with the publishing of Jason's first book, "Love Him, Hate Him: 10 Years of Sports, Passion and Kansas City." It's a collection of Jason's most memorable, thought-provoking and funny columns over the past decade. You can purchase the book at TheKansasCityStore.com. Jason can be reached by e-mail at ballstate68@aol.com.