So Lance is finally coming clean, as it were, about doping it up in order to get up those mountains over and over again on his way to his seven former Tour de France titles. Now after being outted by his buddies and banished by his nemeses, he does what any celebrity does when he’s up against the proverbial wall and needing to squeeze out some mercy as well as a few more bucks: turn to Oprah.

Awaiting what will surely be some up-close teariness cutting away to some up close Oprah empathy, what can we expect to be the outcome? Columnist Gail Collins writes,

We can certainly grant him absolution as a human being, but he appears to be in the market for forgiveness as a celebrity. And, really, once you get past the now-demolished race record, there’s not much point to Lance Armstrong, Famous Person. He has no other talents. He isn’t particularly lovable. He was once cited for using 330,000 gallons of water at his Texas home in a month when his neighbors were being asked to conserve by cutting back on their car-washing. He left his wife, got engaged to the singer Sheryl Crow. He said he broke up with Sheryl Crow because of her “biological clock.” The New York Post had him dating one of the Olsen twins.

Why do we care? Another Gail-columnist Rosenblum adds,

The quick answer is that, as social beings, we are always comparing ourselves to those around us, constantly monitoring our own moral compass. “We enjoy the drama, the tragedy, when it doesn’t affect us personally,” she said (quoting Lauren Bloom, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney and author of The Art of the Apology. “We might have been emotionally engaged in his tours, his fight with cancer, but he’s not our spouse.”

Of course, as Collins mentions, there’s the matter of Armstrong’s sponsorship by the US Postal Service. Lance mails it in to the tune of $40M of our stamp money for his first few former titles. This from an enterprise that lost $16B last year. As someone suggested, Lance should run for Congress.

Or President. Watch a recent episode of American Experience about Bill Clinton and his finger wagging denial of “sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky” followed by his “giving into my shame,” and then witness his standing ovation at Sunday’s Golden Globes. Lance still has a chance.

This is the beauty of redemption, right? We can screw up and screw others, say we’re sorry and get on with what we were going to do had we never got caught in the first place. I say that grace is free and you can do nothing to deserve it, but you still have to do something to show you’ve received it. Lance still has a chance.

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