Tough Day for Clay

Posted March 16, 2005 at 6:49pm

Imagine if it were your job to grill the hero of your favorite baseball team, a hero to your children and community, about allegations that he’s a steroid abuser? That’ll be the sick feeling Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), a St. Louis native, has today when Cardinals home run hero Mark McGwire shows up, compelled by a subpoena to testify before the House Government Reform Committee.

[IMGCAP(1)] “Hopefully McGwire will refute what [former teammate Jose] Canseco has written about him,” Clay told HOH. Sighing a few times before answering the question, Clay said he’s not sure yet what he’ll ask McGwire, who has repeatedly denied Canseco’s claims that McGwire partook in steroid use.

“I don’t know whether there’s any way to prove whether he was on steroids or not,” Clay said. But if there is a way, and it turns out McGwire was hopped up on steroids when he hit all those glorious home runs, “it’ll be very disappointing.” The Congressman said he regularly takes his 11-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son to games.

Clay said it’s his “duty as a member of the committee to ask tough questions” but he’ll have his constituents and their hearts, and his own, in mind, too. They live and breathe Mark McGwire. A section of Interstate 70 that runs through the heart of his House district is named for McGwire.

And the Congressman, who grew up going to Cardinals games with his father, former Rep. Bill Clay (D-Mo.), has been revisiting those “fond memories.” He still has an autographed baseball signed by all the Cardinals players from 1967, including Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Bob Gibson. “I’ve kept if for almost 40 years,” he said.

While he’s not exactly sure what he’ll ask McGwire today, Clay knows one thing: “I will wear my Cardinal red tie.”

Another Conflicted Fan. And if Clay seems torn up over the prospect of drugged-up baseball players being exposed, think about how Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) must feel. He’s the brother-in-law of Hank Aaron.

The baseball legend will attend a fundraiser for Scott in Washington, D.C., on April 7 to mark the 31st anniversary of Aaron’s historic 715th home run, which broke Babe Ruth’s record and was a landmark for black athletes.

Rob Griner, a spokesman for Scott, said the Congressman has not weighed in publicly on how he feels about the Government Reform Committee subpoenaing the baseball players. Griner said Scott is “concerned,” especially since his brother-in-law is an icon of the sport.

TEA-LU It Is. One very thorny potential fight between House and Senate transportation negotiators already has been averted, even before the Senate has passed its bill. With House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) having affectionately named the House version of the highway bill for his wife, Lu, HOH worried that his counterpart, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), might try to pull a fast one and rename the bill after his dearly beloved Kay.

Young has gotten lots of attention with his bill, TEA-LU, short for the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. You can just imagine how sensitive things would have gotten if Inhofe tried to make it TEA-KAY.

But Inhofe is ditching chivalry for a stab at diplomacy.

“I think TEA-LU would be a great name,” he said. Plus, naming the bill TEA-KAY “would mean absolutely nothing to my wife.”

In the Senate, Inhofe will let the House commoners know, a rose by any other name is just as sweet. “My interest is in the substance and completion of reauthorization. You could call it PEE-EW as far as I’m concerned.”

All Riled Up. The communications director for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has a hot temper. And don’t the boys at the National Republican Senatorial Committee know it.

After the NRSC sent out a press release Wednesday excoriating Nelson’s record on President Bush’s judicial nominees and accusing Nelson of flip-flopping on changing judicial filibuster rules, Nelson’s communications director, David DiMartino, teed off. He sent an e-mail directly to Brian Nick, the NRSC’s spokesman, saying, “Saw your lame press release. Besides the fact it’s incoherent … you are confusing two issues.” And then he went on to make fun of the way Bush speaks.

The NRSC press release had said that Nelson, aka the Benator, had worked with Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) “for weeks” to end the standoff over filibuster rules for judicial nominees, but that later he proposed a rules change to require even more votes — 67 — than presently needed to break a filibuster.

DiMartino wrote in his e-mail that Nelson’s meetings with Lott “were never about considering the ‘nuclear (or ‘nucular’ as the president says — just so you know what I mean) option.” He went on to commend the NRSC press release as being “a slightly better effort than that stupid Howard Dean attack a few weeks ago. You must have better researchers now.”

Still, DiMartino said, “I guess St. Patty’s Day started a day early at the NRSC.”

Nick’s response to DiMartino? “Read about it tomorrow.”

Maybe the boys can have a pint today at the Dubliner and let bygones be bygones.

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