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"Young and Stupid" George Bush, Henry Hyde

Timothy Egan starts out writing about a baseball superstar's steroid use and ropes in two prominent Republicans along the way.

Liberal reporter turned nytimes.com "Outposts" blogger Timothy Egan Wednesday night berated "Young and Stupid" Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, once again a tabloid focus for past steroid use. This being Egan, he found a way to rope a couple of Republican politicians into his jeremiad, reaching back over a decade for one example.


Earlier this week, we saw a lip-biting, brow-crunching Alex Rodriguez, arguably the best player in baseball and certainly the game's most insincere human being, explain why he took performance-enhancing drugs in his prime.


"I was young, I was stupid, I was naive."


Whoooaaa, A-Rod. Stop the tape. For the record, he was pumped up on steroids and other drugs from ages 26 through 28, while the highest-paid player in baseball, with a 10-year, $252 million contract.


He was a man in full, but wants us to think of him as a boy. He was a corporation unto himself, a very calculated one at that. He cheated to get an edge. Then he lied about it.


But if nothing else, the A-Rod 'roid admission this week - after he famously looked Katie Couric in the eye in 2007 and denied ever taking drugs to help him perform - gives us a chance to parse the oldest of lame excuses: young and stupid.


The best-known contemporary example is George W. Bush, who explained away spending nearly half his adult life in a stupor of alcoholic and self-indulgent excess by saying: "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible."


After that, no reporter dared to ask about allegations of cocaine use, or try to get him to explain his arrest for driving while intoxicated.


But Bush-the-life-story could have been a great teaching tool, or at least the start of a national debate on the young-and-stupid excuse and its consequences.


....


The height of absurdity for the y&s excuse had to be Henry Hyde, the late silver-maned congressman who stood in judgment of Bill Clinton while chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. When it came out that the ever-pious Hyde had carried on a four-year affair with a married woman, he called it "a youthful indiscretion."


Except Hyde was 45 years old, a married father of four, while engaging in this act of tender-age passion.