Whoops! I did it. I apologize.
Remember when Mom and Dad taught you to say “I’m sorry” when you screwed up or offended someone? Of course you do! Making amends figures among the top 10 of our Western ethical agenda must-do tasks. Own up to your sins, apologize, and get on with your wretched life!
Even public relations specialists advise their corporate clients to apologize. When a CBS poll revealed that 70% of the American public disapproved of how BP handled its infamous Louisiana oil spill in 2010, the firm hired Anne Womack-Kolton, a former press secretary to the vice-president Dick Cheney, to handle its public relations. At this level, we customarily refer to an apology as a necessary step in the “damage control” process.
Fair enough. But in a world of instant Internet news, celebrity apologies have become ubiquitous. Say and do what you please, because, hey, you’re rich and famous, aren't you? But whoaaa Nelly! You don’t want to come off like a filthy pig in public!
What’s to be done about this influx of celebrity mea culpas? Must we scrutinize each apology for its sincerity, and its value as a lesson in how to behave in public? Or should we simply let each offender off the hook, and move on to the next sensationalist piece of news?
In the absence of a latter-day Billy Graham or Bishop Fulton J. Sheen as America’s national conscience, here’s a modest suggestion for filling the moral gap. I’d like to see some conscientious entrepreneur set up a restaurant called The Cheap Apology. C'mon, don’t laugh! This is America. You've seen gimmicky restaurant names before. Some of them work very well.
The restaurant would open in Washington, DC, an appropriate site from which politicians can issue apologies. Once the restaurant is successful, the owner would open a second one in Hollywood called The Cheap Apology West, a fitting hang-out for the entertainment industry sinner. CNN journalists would interview sinner-politicians while lunching with them at The Cheap Apology East. Rob Marciano and Nancy O’Dell of Entertainment Tonight would handle the bad-boys-and-girls interviews at The Cheap Apology West.
But the most exciting feature of The Cheap Apology will be its signature menu — dishes named for esteemed transgressors and reprobates. Here are just a few appetizing selections from that menu.
The Eliot Spitzer Deli Delight: A classic New-York delicatessen sandwich stacked with cold cuts on a Kaiser roll, and loaded with hot mustard and rich spices. A fitting regional specialty to honor the former controversial Democratic New York governor who resigned in 2008, and apologized in public with his wife at his side when a wiretap revealed he may have violated the anti-laundering provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act and the Patriot Act by transferring bank funds to pay for the services of prostitutes.
The Alec Baldwin Yoga Yum-yum Tray: An artful assortment of fresh veggies laced with curry, dried spices, cinnamon and cloves. Especially prepared for the middle-aged yogi like Baldwin who, you’ll remember, lost his NBC interview show after he published anti-gay slurs against a paparazzo on Twitter. Baldwin saw the error of his mean-spirited ways instantly and quickly apologized for his flareup. As a drink option to accompany its Yum-Yum tray, The Cheap Apology management recommends the House Tasty Coconut Milk Smoothee, especially prepared to calm the throat after a bout of angry shouting.
The Dennis Rodman Kimchi Pancake: For those who enjoy Asian cuisine, you’ll absolutely savor this delicately prepared fluffy Korean specialty with vegetables and pork. Could there be a more fitting tribute to the former basketball star and bosom buddy of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un? Rodman offended the free world when he suggested in a CNN interview with Andrew Cuomo on January 9, 2014 that the American Kenneth Bae, now a North Korean prisoner, probably deserved his prison sentence. Rodman apologized two days later, with an explanation that he was drunk during the CNN interview.
The Chris Christie Salad: A single fresh sliced tomato atop a bed of lettuce smothered in the House low-cal dressing. What better way to flatter the New Jersey Governor, perennially in search of the perfect diet? Christie did apologize for the malicious George Washington Bridge closing instigated by his top aide, Bridget Kelly, and fired her immediately. In his press conference he said “I feel sad.” CNN legal commentator Jeffrey Toobin is most likely wrong in his prediction that the GW Bridge affair will put an end to a possible Christie presidential candidacy in 2016. America will probably worry more about any health problem associated with Christie’s excess weight. As a token of faith in a Christie run for president, The Cheap Apology East dedicates this spare but sumptuous Chris Christie salad.
As more celebrity apologies unfold in the coming months, The Cheap Apology East and The Cheap Apology West will continue to add appetizing dishes to its menu. Stay tuned. In the meantime, Dennis Rodman, if your conscience can’t be your guide, call your press agent!