David Beckham has just said sorry.
England's famous soccer icon (married to Posh Spice) deliberately ran into a rival player last weekend and got himself suspended for the next big match. He had already been cautioned once, and any second offence in any forthcoming match would automatically lead to suspension.
But Beckham had a secret - he had just cracked his ribs and knew he couldn't play for several weeks. So he put his legendary brain to use and worked out a way of getting suspended while he was injured. Ho ho. Very clever. Except he couldn't keep it to himself.
Beckham rushed off the pitch and bragged about his brainpower to a journalist. The nation exploded with rage. That's why he's sorry now. Tony Blair has also just said sorry. Sort of.
England's famous Prime Minister went to war against Iraq because he was certain Saddam Hussein had loads of weapons of mass destruction. How did he know? Because the spooks told him. And how did they know? Well they didn't. They said at the time the information was suspect. It might be true.
But Mr Blair went ahead and told us Saddam could launch nasty weapons at 45 minutes notice. 45 weeks and several top level inquiries later it was obvious Mr. Blair had been talking twaddle. The intelligence was wrong. Official. And Blair is now apologising. He's sorry the intelligence was wrong. But he won't admit he knew it was wrong. Which is a rather sneaky distinction.
David Beckham is a national icon and a sporting leader. But he is only famous for his feet. Not his grey cells. Some doubt that he can even spell the word sorry. Tony Blair, on the other hand, is a slick lawyer by training. Some think he ought to know better. George W Bush hasn't made any pretence of being sorry. Nor for that matter has Saddam Hussein.
In the words of that other great English hero, Mr. Elton John, sorry seems to be the hardest word.
By Ed Boyle
Copyright 2004 CBS. All rights reserved.