You knew this was coming, that Congress, especially the erstwhile committee chairman Henry Waxman, wasn't the least bit finished with Roger Clemens.

You knew this was coming, that Congress, especially the erstwhile committee chairman Henry Waxman, wasn't the least bit finished with Roger Clemens.

From the time Waxman cut off the Rocket in mid-sentence two weeks ago, angrily banging down his gavel and ordering him to shut up, like very few have ever dared, you knew that was only the start of bad things to come for Clemens, not the end.

And now, one of those bad things has finally arrived, no doubt applying a jolt to Clemens' psyche like being on the other side of one of his own high, hard ones.

For the first time during this whole performance-enhancing mess, Clemens has something to really fear now, after Congress yesterday asked the Justice Department to investigate whether he — not his former trainer/current accuser Brian McNamee — had "committed perjury or made knowingly false statements" to them in his Feb. 5 deposition and Feb. 13 public hearing.

So, like fellow suspected juicer Barry Bonds, Clemens is smack in the danger zone of fed country now.

Not up against some friendly foe like Mike Wallace on "60 Minutes."

Or glaring at a mere group of reporters, who can only damage his rep with nasty words, who can only ask questions but demand nothing, who can be flicked away easily with a "no comment."

Or pleading his innocence before a panel of bipartisan politicians trying simply to score points along party lines.

Or getting outed bigtime by a longtime pal named Andy Pettitte.

If this current revelation — coupled with the shocking news that a picture exists that places him right at the infamous Jose Canseco party — doesn't scare Clemens straight, if it doesn't compel him once and for all to fess up to at least something, nothing ever will.

Because at stake here is more than his great legacy and his Hall of Fame induction and the legitimacy of all those records — it's his very freedom.

Clemens stares down at the dark prospect of prison time now, and it's only because of his own stupidity and arrogance, as well as the stupidity and arrogance of his lawyers and damage-control P.R. men for allowing their hair-trigger client to sit at that Capitol Hill table in the first place.

With his unbelievable timelines and stammering inconsistencies, his implausible explanations and staggering tales of "misremembering," but mostly his utter inability to answer even the most basic questions without twitching like crazy and falling all over himself, he left Waxman and the rest of his congressional bunch no choice.

Whether he did or did not use steroids or human growth hormone, whether he shot himself up with nothing but B-12 and Lidocaine, Clemens sure sounded, looked, and acted like a guilty man squirming desperately in, out, and around a pack of lies.

He couldn't for the life of him sell his case.

I'll never be able to figure out how he let himself get so steeped in this, why he ever started down this no-win road.

Why couldn't he have just kept quiet, like all the other guys named in the Mitchell Report?

Why couldn't he have just faded off into the Houston sunset, out of sight, out of mind?

Why did he have to be the one to wave a furious fist and protest so loudly?

Why didn't somebody close to him — either his wife or Pettitte or whoever — before all this spiraled out of control, before all this turned out so badly, do what Waxman had the guts to do to him: Cutting off his words by banging something hard and telling him to just zip it?