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What would David Letterman have done, if say, Jay Leno was forced to publicly apologize to his wife for his numerous affairs with staffers only after a failed blackmail attempt by a colleague brought it all to light? Well, he'd likely compile a Top Ten list of apologies, and here's what it might look like...
10. Janet Jackson
The singer shouldered most of the blame for her infamous nip slip at the 2004 Super Bowl—even though it was co-performer Justin Timberlake who pulled off her clothes. "The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my halftime show performance was made after final rehearsals," Jackson said in a statement. "MTV was completely unaware of it. It was not my intention that it go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone offended—including the audience, MTV, CBS and the NFL."
9. Kobe Bryant
After sexual assault charges were brought against him in 2004, the L.A. Lakers shooting guard told the cameras, "I'm innocent. I didn't force her to do anything against her will…I love my wife with all my heart…[turning to his wife] You're the strongest person I know, and I am so sorry for having to put you through this, for having to put our family through this." He later released this apology to the "young woman involved in this incident": "I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year…Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did."
8. Mark Sanford
Politicians cheat on their wives all the time (see Nos. 6 and 1), and then apologize for their lewd behavior with their wives standing beside them. But South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's apology was most memorable for the fact that his wife Jenny was absent during it. "Let me apologize to my wife Jenny and our four great boys, Marshall, Landon, Bolton and Blake, for letting them down," he told reporters, adding through tears, "To Jenny, anybody who has observed her over the last 20 years of my life, knows how closely she has stood by my side, in campaign after campaign after campaign, and literally being my campaign manager, and in the raising those four boys, and in a whole host of things throughout the lives that we've built together."
7. David Letterman
The Late Show host confessed on-air to doing "creepy things" in the wake of an extortion plot by a CBS employee. "The creepy stuff was that I have had sex with women who work for me on this show," he said. A few days later, he took to the stage again to aplogize to his wife and also to his current staff, who have been barraged with questions following news of the scandal. "My wife Regina has been horribly hurt by my behavior," he said, later adding, "My thanks to the staff for, once again, putting up with something stupid I've gotten myself involved in."
6. Eliot Spitzer
New York's former governor seems to have bounced back nicely from his dalliances with a prostitute—he's now writing opinion pieces for Slate and teaching at New York's City College. But before those gigs could be had, Spitzer needed to issue this mea culpa: "I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and violates my—or any—sense of right and wrong. I apologize first, and most importantly, to my family. I apologize to the public, who I promised better…I most now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family."
5. Tonya Harding
The Olympic figure skater's apology for her involvement in the 1994 knee-clubbing of competitor Nancy Kerrigan was just as self-serving as the act that got her in trouble in the first place. "I know I have let you down, but I have also let myself down," she said. "But I still want to represent my country in Lillehammer, Norway, next month."
4. Chris Brown
It took the singer six months to officially issue an apology to his fans for assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna after the 2009 Grammy Awards in February, an event that shocked the squeaky-clean singer's fans. "I am sorry," he said in a video statement. "I have tried to live my life in a way which could make those around me proud of me, and until recently, I think I was doing a pretty good job…I have told Rihanna countless times and I am telling you today that I am truly, truly sorry."
3. Kanye West
After stealing the spotlight during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for best female video at this year's MTV awards, it took Swift calling out the absence of an apology on The View before West took to his blog to say, "I'm in the wrong for going on stage and taking away from her moment…I will apologize to Taylor." Swift later rang up ABC News to say that West had indeed called to apologize.
2. Hugh Grant
Back in 1995, Jay Leno had the nerve to ask the actor the question everyone had on their minds after Grant, who was dating model/actress Elizabeth Hurley at the time, was caught with a prostitute. "What the hell were you thinking?" Leno asked. "People give me tons of ideas on this one," Grant replied. "I keep reading new psychological theories and stuff like that. You know, that I was under pressure, I was overtired, I was lonely or I fell down the stairs when I was a child or whatever, but I think that would be bullocks, really, to hide behind something like that. I think you know in life pretty much what's a good thing to do and what's a bad thing, and I did a bad thing. There you have it."
1. Bill Clinton
"I did not have sexual relations with that woman," became one of the most parodied statements of the '90s, mostly because then-president Bill Clinton later copped to a relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. "I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate," he later conceded. In fact, it was wrong. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that."
Which celebrity offense could you never forgive? Chime in below!