I was hearing Don Imus apologize four times one day last week. It seemed to be a regular feature on my local TV news, like weather and sports.
The poor thing. Some people have all the luck to say something stupid in a busy news period. If only the I-Man had used his ugly words at the beginning of that other March Madness, the Anna Nicole Smith Is Dead news orgy. His disgusting so-called joke would have been a blip, a smudge on his already besmirched escutcheon of offensive remarks, as we concentrated on Anna Nicole shuffling off this mortal coil, or wherever she was going.
While I was mulling over Imus' words, I began hearing Paul D. Wolfowitz apologizing several times for the preferential treatment the World Bank President had given to the employee he was shtupping apparently. All he had done was give her a 50% raise in a new job he got for her at the State Dept. With an 8% guaranteed annual raise! Not even banks will give you that.
Wow. What was going on here, I asked myself. Was this National Apology Week?
The guilty were standing up and taking the blame for mistakes. It was Mea Culpa, instead of the usual Theyaculpa, where the culprit blames the media or anybody else.
Whatever, it was great. I love apologies. They are usually so well written, thoughtful and delivered with such sincerity. Some of the best acting we have on TV today is in the apology section of the news.
Apologies are a new growth industry in news and entertainment. More people seemed to be interested in what Imus and Wolfowitz were apologizing for then what the presidential candidates were saying on the campaign trail.
Let's face it, apologizes are so much more entertaining and apparently news worthy than, say, economic news. Whatever happened to the missing two trillion dollars in the Federal budget, for example, that Donald Rumsfeld was beginning to testify on Sept. 10, a day before 9/11? Or the millions FEMA more currently wasted on the meals on wheels that rotted while preparing for the last hurricane season?
There is so much misfeasance, malfeasance and no feasance that famous people might want to apologize for. If only there was a regular forum for such renting of garments and beating of chest. Why not harness all this passion?
It occurred to me what a great idea for a new reality show apologies could make, a place where apologizers and people interested in apologies could turn to when in the mood for hearing about the mistakes being made every day all around us.
The producers of Nobody Is Perfect --as I call the show, which I see starting as an hourly weekly program before becoming a whole channel-- would open its facilities to top newsmakers, politicians, celebrities, sports figures, and just ordinary folks who want to get something off their chest.
Such a program, first of all, would establish standards for apologies, now sadly missing. For example, it no longer seems enough to apologize only once. Repetitive apologies have become standard. But how many does it take? Is four enough in Imus' case? Apparently, not for CBS and MSNBC who fired him anyway.
Does the apology acceptance rate vary according to race, creed or geographic location? There is chaos in the art form today. It's appalling.
I would have a panel of experts rating the apologies. Like judges on "American Idol." My nominee for a seat on the bench would be Mel Gibson, a well-known apologist on religious issues.
For added audience excitement, the judges might hold up cards with numbers, like the Olympic figure skating judges in the old days.
"That's a 2! Come back next week and apologize again...The audience didn't believe you... It didn't play well...whatever.
Panels will rate the apologies in terms of credibility. Is the contestant making the apology really sorry or just saying so to take the heat off them? In other words, are they truly sorry they did it? Or are they sorry they got caught?
That's the problem with public apologies today. Sometimes the apologizers seem like news dolls: wind them up and they apologize.
The people at home, the ultimate judges in a democracy apparently, can vote on whether they accept the apology or not. Via the usual exercise of the franchise and increasing profit for phone companies: Yes or No, 900 numbers.
Guests would be selected on the basis of news value. Wolfowitz, for example, would be invited back. While he was apologizing for apparent conflict of interest in dealing with his lady friend, he also might want to apologize for going to Congress before the start of the Iraq War and telling them our troops would be welcomed with flowers for delivering them from Saddam.
Gov. Corzine could apologize to the people of New Jersey who didn't vote for a governor who wouldn't obey the law for wearing a seat belt.
Al Sharpton can finally apologize for that Tawana Brawley thing.
What was he thinking, Jesse Jackson might want to say when he called it Hymietown?
The recording industry could apologize en masse for aiding the glorification of rappers and their music which uses the words Imus multiply apologized for, on the grounds they also might have had a bad effect on the minds of young people.
The Injustice Department could apologize for firing the good U.S. attorneys. Attorney-General Gonzalez could apologize for not reading his own emails.
The DA in North Carolina could apologize for what he put those Duke lacrosse boys through, and thank God they don't tar and feather anymore.
Corporate officials could apologize for swindling billions as they go off for a few months to Club Fed prisons.
Baseball team managements could apologize for losing in the World Series.
President Bush could apologize for the weapons of mass distraction or whatever other minor mistakes he may have made in his eight years office, when he should have been in a home. He might even apologize for the whole Iraq War.
There is no shortage of things that need apologizing for in this crazy society we live in, if you stop to think about it.
This show could become so popular, such a riveting media experience, famous people will be apologizing for things they didn't even do, just to get on the program. Like the confessions in Stalin's day in Soviet Russia before they shot you.