Gilbert Flores/Celebrity Photo; Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage
April 29, 2010 05:15 PM

The lying, the cheating and then the apologizing. Can words measure up to harmful actions?

Jesse James

Jesse James scrambled to make it right when allegations of an illicit affair with Michelle “Bombshell” McGee broke, even entering a treatment facility. Wife Sandra Bullock wasn’t swayed and filed for divorce April 23, leaving James hardly any choice but to "let my wife end our marriage."

The Apology: “There is only one person to blame for this whole situation, and that is me,” James told PEOPLE on March 19. “It’s because of my poor judgment that I deserve everything bad that is coming my way … This has caused my wife and kids pain and embarrassment beyond comprehension and I am extremely saddened to have brought this on them. I am truly very sorry for the grief I have caused them. I hope one day they can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”

Tiger Woods

James wasn’t the only man trying to save his marriage this spring. Just a month earlier Tiger Woods called a press conference – after months out of sight and reportedly in sex addiction rehab for numerous affairs – to publicly apologize to his fans and his family. He and wife Elin Nordegren have been living separate lives, and talk of an imminent divorce is rampant on gossip blogs.

The Apology: “As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time,” he said Feb. 19. “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame … I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply.”

John Edwards

The John Edwards affair became public in 2008, and was especially dramatic given his wife Elizabeth’s battle with breast cancer as well as his persistent denials that he had fathered a child with his mistress. This year he finally admitted that the rumors were true: He has a daughter with Rielle Hunter. Elizabeth, 60, who is still undergoing cancer treatment, has divorce papers ready, a source says, but whether she files them likely depends on her health.

The Apology: “In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs … I recognized my mistake and I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman, and I asked for her forgiveness. … I was and am ashamed of my conduct and choices, and I had hoped that it would never become public.”

PHOTOS: Famous Cheaters – The Men Who Strayed

Jude Law

Time can heal some wounds, though. The British tabloids broke the news in July 2005 that Jude Law was having an affair with nanny Daisy Wright while engaged to Sienna Miller. Just a few years later, the pair (both starring on Broadway) were spotted canoodling once again.

The Apology: “I am deeply ashamed and upset that I’ve hurt Sienna and the people most close to us,” he said in statement the day the scandal broke. “I want to publicly apologize to Sienna and our respective families for the pain that I have caused.”

Bill Clinton

Some women are just more forgiving than others. Such is the case of the Clintons. The former president’s notorious indiscretions with intern Monica Lewinsky became a national scandal, one which he repeatedly apologized for: “I’m having to become quite an expert in this business of asking for forgiveness,” he said on Aug. 28, 1998. The Clintons remain married – with Bill even backing wife Hillary through an unsuccessful presidential campaign – and are now planning daughter Chelsea’s nuptials.

The Apology: “I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate,” he told the public. “In fact, it was wrong. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that.”

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