For most of us, an apology actually means something. If you hurt somebody's feelings, laugh/throw things at a kid in a wheelchair or repeatedly violate a restraining order of a certain SOMEONE, you offer a heartfelt apology and move on with your life.
But for famous types who have lawyers and publicists, the public apology becomes an important business strategy, with all sincerity stripped away. We're talking about apologies like...
#6. Jason Giambi on the Subject of Steroids
Jason Giambi became one of the top hitters in Major League Baseball thanks to hard work, a little bit of luck and illegal steroids. In 2003, Giambi was named in the BALCO scandal, which accused him of receiving HGH, anabolic steroids and god knows what else from trainer Greg Anderson over the course of three years.
After details of this scandal were leaked to the public, Giambi had no choice but to address the media. While the baseball steroid scandal has been a long parade of carefully scripted attempts to deny culpability, Giambi's attempt at making amends set the bullshit stained high watermark. Forgoing an apology, Giambi dumped a large bag of horse manure on the notepads of USA Today writers. "I was wrong for doing that stuff," Giambi said. "What we should have done a long time ago was stand up -- players, ownership, everybody -- and said, 'We made a mistake."
"Steroids? However could we have known?!"
What Makes Him an Insincere Sack of Lies:
That mushy, sketchy wording of the apology was no accident; Giambi knew exactly what he was doing. In his contract, it stated that the New York Yankees didn't have to pay him another dime of his approximately $790 billion dollar contract if he admitted to illegal off the field activity. So instead he apologized for doing, "that stuff."
This raised a number of important questions: What stuff? And what mistake? But it turned out the real question was: Who gives a shit? Giambi got his money, and now children know that when they beat up a kid at school, they can pretend to take responsibility for their actions by apologizing for "doing those things."
"And I apologize for signing that awesome round thing."
Is this article stating that Jason Giambi is responsible for the well-being of children in America? No, of course not. But only because nobody gives a shit about baseball anymore.
#5. Governor Eliot Spitzer and Prostitute Ashley Dupre
In March of 2007, New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer, was forced to resign due to his involvement in a prostitution scandal. Details were leaked to the media that Spitzer met with a prostitute (Ashley Dupre) in February to have sexual relations, sing karaoke and play some foosball. Spitzer took to the podium and decided to come clean:
"I cannot allow for my private failings to disrupt the people's work," Spitzer said. "Over the course of my public life, I have insisted - I believe correctly - that people take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason, I am resigning from the office of governor."
Of course, Dupre had to get involved the apologies act as well; after all, there was press (and eventually, an interview with Diane Sawyer) to be had. In November of 2008, Dupre expressed her deep, complex, sorrow for Spitzer's wife, Silda Wall Spitzer. "I'm sorry for your pain," Dupre claimed she'd say if she could talk to Silda.
What Makes Them Insincere Sacks of Lies:
Let's take Spitzer's apology statement by statement, shall we?
"I cannot allow for my private failings to disrupt the people's work."
Hey, that's right. That's why, completely on your own, you broke it off with the prostitute and apologized to the voters. Oh, wait, that's not what happened. You fucking got caught. Had the details not been related to the media, you would have continued to serve as governor and lead the same creepy personal life.
"Over the course of my public life, I have insisted - I believe correctly - that people take responsibility for their conduct."
You were caught red-handed! You didn't take responsibility for a goddamned thing until you had no choice! The time to take responsibility was a few years ago, right before you made the decision to tell your wife you had to work late, and pay some socially retarded girl who's half your age for sex. The personal responsibility train left the station years ago, and you gave it the finger as you watched it leave.
"I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason, I am resigning from the office of governor."
Also, has this observation already been made?
Oh, Eliot. You silly, silly man. The reason you resigned, and this has been well documented, is because you would have been impeached otherwise. Spitzer claiming that his resignation was due to honor is akin to a criminal being led to the electric chair and then declaring, "I'm now willing to die for my own actions!"
As for Dupre...wow, where to start. For one, its quite believable that you genuinely feel guilty about this whole saga. And surely your appearances had nothing to do with the record deal you were pursuing.
#4. Congressman Tom Feeney and the Abramoff Scandal
Tom Feeney is a Republican politician from Florida who, like several others, was mentioned in the Abramoff Scandal, when lobbyist Jack Abramoff was caught trading gifts for political favors. Feeney, for instance, was accused of taking a golfing trip to Scotland that had been paid for by Jack Abramoff (who attended the trip alongside shitbag in question, Feeney).
In 2008, Feeney took to the airwaves and, with an attitude like he'd been caught drinking a cup of coffee and reading the morning paper, remarked, "five years ago, when I was first elected to congress, I was invited on a trip to Scotland. I found out later that it was paid for by a corrupt lobbyist. It was a rookie mistake."
What Makes Him an Insincere Sack of Lies:
Perhaps people may have given Feeney's "apology" more credence if he had nothing to gain by being forgiven, other than a cleansing of his own conscience and to make things right with the people of Florida. But, oh wait, that's right, he was running for reelection in the house of fucking congress at the time.
So the whole admission was a calculated attempt to condemn Abramoff, in order to distance himself from the scandal, while trying to cover his ass at the same time. If a man had been standing by a train platform, and shoved an elderly man in front of an oncoming train only to exclaim, "Oh man! What a rookie mistake! I'm sorry, you see, this is my first time riding a train. Say, how about a job?" he almost certainly wouldn't be awarded a position of importance at the station. Unless the elderly man had been Hitler, or someone to that effect.
Or, hey, someone like Abramoff.
Oh, by the way: Feeney lost in a landslide, giving new meaning to the old phrase, "Republican politicians in Florida that offer phony apologies for benefit almost always wind up losing the next upcoming election. Especially when they're embroiled in lobbyist scandals. With Jack Abramoff."
#3. Pacman Jones, Guns and Strippers
Adam "Pacman" Jones is a total douchebag, and an NFL cornerback in his spare time. In 2007, Jones made headlines for his part in a nightclub shooting that left the establishment's manager paralyzed. Jones managed to avoid jail time, but had a hefty year-long suspension handed down from the NFL.
After the suspension, Jones released this statement: "To my family, teammates, coaches and fans, I recognize that I have lost the right to ask for your patience and understanding. However, I will do everything in my power to regain your trust and respect."
"You ain't catchin' me, severe emotional issues!"
What Makes Him An Insincere Sack of Lies:
Shortly after Pacman's suspension, he signed a contract with TNA, which stands for Total Nonstop Action; a professional wrestling company that we have to assume stole its name from one of the 24-hour porn channels at the bottom of the Dish listings. Because a contract clause forbade Jones from wrestling, he instead had a gimmick where he would drop single dollar bills on wrestlers who had lost matches. This routine is known in strip clubs as "making it rain," an act that led to Jones slamming a stripper's head on the stage the night of the shooting.
There are many ways to demonstrate that you are genuinely sorry for doing something. Creating a professional wrestling persona with a gimmick based around the very thing for which you're apologizing does not rank high on the list. Neither does doing the same damned thing again. In January of 2008, Jones was accused of hitting a woman in an Atlanta strip club. Pacman, you have earned our trust indeed. Wherever a stripper needs to be unnecessarily harassed, wherever someone needs to be intimidated by a large posse, wherever someone generally needs to be in the presence of a complete and utter asshole: We can trust you to be there.
#2. Alec Baldwin Screams Obscenities at His Child
Many of you know Alec Baldwin as the talented, overwhelmingly pompous actor in such great movies as Pearl Harbor, The Cat in the Hat and The Shadow. In April of 2007, Baldwin became the subject of the media's wrath after leaving his daughter a threatening voicemail. Baldwin had apparently been set off by his daughter's absence during their scheduled visitation time, and her repeated criticism of his performance in Along Came Polly.
In addition to calling his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland a "rude, thoughtless little pig"; Baldwin angrily yelled, "Once again, I have made an ass of myself trying to get to a phone, you have insulted me for the last time. This crap you pull on me with this goddamn phone situation that you would never dream of doing to your mother, and you do it to me constantly over and over again."
If they made a movie about a serial killer who murdered people via cellphone, this would be the poster.
After a couple of weeks passed, this statement was released by Baldwin's spokesperson: "Although Alec acknowledges that he should have used different language in parenting his child, everyone who knows him privately knows what he has been put through for the past six years."
What Makes Him An Insincere Sack of Lies:
What stands out about this apology is, "...he should have used different language in parenting his child." Apparently Baldwin and his spokesperson believed the sentiment behind the pig comparison was right on. His problem was that he simply hadn't put it eloquently enough. If you imply that your child is a pig, does it really matter what kind of language you use to do it?
Pig is the universal language.
Also, his daughter wasn't the one putting him through legal struggles. If anything she was being used as a pawn. He shouldn't have taken out his frustrations on his daughter, and someone who took a role in The Adventures of Pluto Nash certainly shouldn't be calling someone else thoughtless.
#1. Michael Richards and Racism
It's hard to imagine a string of events that could have killed off Michael Richards' public images as lovable Kramer as quickly as screaming racial epithets from the stage. Really, nothing short of killing some dudes.
It didn't take long for black leaders (that is, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson) to demand Richards apologize. On November 20, 2006 Richards appeared via satellite on Late Night with David Letterman (Jerry Seinfeld was also a guest that night) to smooth it all over:
"... You know, I'm really busted up over this and I'm very, very sorry to those people in the audience, the blacks, the Hispanics, whites - everyone that was there that took the brunt of that anger and hate and rage and how it came through, and I'm concerned about more hate and more rage and more anger coming through, not just towards me but towards a black/white conflict."
What Makes Him An Insincere Sack of Lies:
Anyone who watched his stumbling, confusing, oddly-comical apology, probably wondered what the hell was going on. He didn't appear to have anything relevant to say, and he's basically gone into witness protection since that time. What the hell was the guy doing? The confusion stems from the fact that Richards never mentioned the real reason he was there. It was the same reason Seinfeld was there: the Seinfeld: Season 7 DVD was due to be released on November 21st, the very next day.
Seinfeld and Richards needed to come onto the show so the audience would come to the conclusion, "Hey! This guy isn't so bad! He seems incapable of doing deliberate harm to people, much less have racist thoughts. He made a genuine mistake, and totally deserves a portion of my $49.95. Honey, get the kids! We're taking a trip to Best Buy!"
The apology itself was sheer insincerity perfected. In his rambling, barely coherent appearance, Richards delved into such vital issues as Hurricane Katrina ("There's a great deal of disturbance in this country and how blacks feel about what happened in Katrina, and, you know..."), American foreign policy ("...why the trash takes place, whether or not it's between me and a couple of hecklers in the audience or between this country and another nation, the rage...") and his martial arts background ("...I tried to jujitsu that...").
If Richards had merely shown up, took accountability with a brief apology and left, he wouldn't have looked like such a nutjob. But no, Michael, you go ahead and equate your mediocre unfunny comedy routine with Hurricane Katrina. You do that.
For more in the world of celebrity douchedom, check out The Top 10 Celebrity Sex Videos Nobody Wanted to See and The 7 Most Retarded Ways Celebrities Have Tried to Go Green.
And check out our insincere apologies that we make everyday with Cracked.com's Top Picks.