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    Letterman (Sort of) Apologizes to Palin: "They're Just Jokes"

    Guess this means the Palins are a Conan-favoring household.

    David Letterman, under the watchful eyes of a suddenly and long-deserved surging home audience, offered up his best attempt at an apology last night after a self-proclaimed stupid human trick of his own failed to go down as well as he would have liked—or exactly as he intended—with the governor of Alaska.

    Responding to derisive statements issued by Sarah and Todd Palin in response to Monday night's monologue and Top 10 List (the Top 10 Highlights of Sarah Palin's Trip to New York City), Letterman agreed last night that his jokes pertaining to one of the Palin daughters were "questionable," but didn't exactly take them back.

    Instead, he clarified and then repeated them, to even more laughter than they earned the first time around.

    "Keep in mind, I can't really defend these," he said in his more than eight-minute mea culpa to Palin, whom he deemed "an absolutely lovely woman."

    "They're just jokes."

    On Tuesday, the Palins issued seemingly out-of-proportion statements blasting Letterman's brand of humor, calling jokes meant to refer to 18-year-old Bristol, but which they mistakenly believed to be about 14-year-old Willow, "disgusting" and "sexually perverted."

    "Laughter incited by sexually perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity aimed at a 14-year-old girl is not only disgusting, but it reminds us some Hollywood/N.Y. entertainers have a long way to go in understanding what the rest of America understands—that acceptance of inappropriate sexual comments about an underage girl, who could be anyone's daughter, contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others," the governor said.

    Todd added in the statement that "any jokes about raping my 14-year-old are despicable. Alaskans know it, and I believe the rest of the world knows it, too."

    "I completely agree with that," Letterman said of the couple's statement. "Absolutely completely agree with that. That's not what I did.

    "These are not jokes made about her 14-year-old daughter. I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex with a 14-year-old girl," he continued, before injecting a little Letterman what-ho back into his speech.

    "Maybe these are questionable because the girl who, excuse me, but is knocked up, is 18 years old."

    As for these so-called questionable jokes...Just in case his ever-growing audience didn't catch them Monday night, Letterman—for posterity's sake, we're sure—repeated his controversial comments last night.

    "You know, this very well could be my last show," he said, to much laughter, before revisiting the feud-sparking one-liners. "I don't know why we all find that amusing."

    Of the Palins' trip to New York, Letterman joked that "the hardest part of the trip was keeping Elliot Spitzer away from her daughter."

    "I'm surprised we haven't heard from Elliot Spitzer either," he said. "I'm not necessarily proud of these jokes. It's a joke, that's all it's supposed to be, that's all that is."

    As for joke No. 2: "Sarah Palin went to a Yankees game yesterday, there was one awkward moment during the seventh-inning stretch: Her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."

    "I recognize that these are ugly," Letterman explained. "These are borderline, but again, an act of desperation to get cheap laughs, which is what I've been doing the last 30 years. Why didn't we hear from Alex Rodriguez?"

    As for the final nail in the coffin, that Palin "bought makeup at Bloomingdale's to update her slutty flight attendant look," well, Dave's apologies can only stretch so far.

    "The only thing I can say about this is I kinda like that joke," he said.

    All of his hard work may have been for naught, however, as guest Kathy Griffin did her best to undercut Letterman's sincerity.

    When Griffin veered the topic of conversation back to the political lightning rod, she was quick to offer her opinion that Palin, "by the way, is a moron."

    "I'm sorry, I'm a woman and I want there to be a female vice president, but I'm not that hard up. And the husband seems like a tool. That's only my opinion and does not reflect..." she said, pointing to an amused Letterman, who wisely opted not to reengage in the topic.

    "We don't have a lot more tape and I'm done saying what I needed to say," he said.

    (Originally published June 11, 2009, at 8:35 a.m. PT)

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