Scott McInnis: Top five apologies he can borrow

Scott McInnis still doesn't quite get how he went from a governor's office shoo-in to a political pariah. He's back in the spotlight, engaging in an act of premature rehabilitation in the Denver Post, vowing to clear the air over this silly plagiarism scandal that derailed his campaign -- and that, by his account, wasn't such a big deal anyway.

"A lot made out of nothing," says he.

Well, practically nothing, In the candidate's rather peculiar recollection of events -- largely unchallenged in the Post -- he was pummeled simply over the fact that his elderly researcher failed to properly footnote stuff lifted wholesale from other sources in the "Musings on Water" McInnis was paid $300,000 to write for the Hasan Foundation.

Never mind that McInnis told the Hasans in writing that this was his original work. Never mind that McInnis tried ineptly to get the researcher to take the fall by signing a letter of apology drafted by others -- yet another brazen attempt to misrepresent whose words we're actually reading. It all comes down to footnotes, see.

What McInnis really needs to do, if he wants anyone to take him seriously as a public servant again, is to apologize publicly for the incident -- and maybe take a wee bit of responsibility himself for handing work that was partly pilfered and largely insipid to the Hasans, while pocketing an astronomical paycheck.

Fortunately, an apology by a faltering public figure doesn't have to be original. There are plenty already out there that, with a little tinkering, would work just fine. Here are five possible statements McInnis could issue, complete with footnotes:

1. "I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything original about my writing, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member or American who was offended... As a former dog catcher, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: My poorly stated musings were not about, and [were] never intended to refer to anything." (A slightly altered version of John Kerry's apology for suggesting that American soldiers "get stuck in Iraq" if they don't do well in school.)

2. "So I apologize... Sometimes we go too far, and sometimes we go way too far. In this case, we went way too far." (Verbatim apology by Don Imus, after making derogatory comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team)

3. "I only wanted to help people understand Colorado water law. I immediately knew in this situation that it was wrong... It was rude, period." (Tweaked version of Kanye West's apology for interrupting Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards.)

4. "I agree with those who have said that in my first statement after I plagiarized I was not contrite enough. I don't think there is a fancy way to say that I have sinned. It is important to me that everybody who has been hurt know that the sorrow I feel is genuine: first and most important, my family; also my friends, my staff, my Hasans, Dan Maes and his family; and the American people. I have asked all for their forgiveness. But I believe that to be forgiven, more than sorrow is required -- at least two more things. First, genuine repentance -- a determination to change and to repair breaches of my own making. Second, what my Bible calls a 'broken spirit,' an understanding that I must have God's help to be the person that I want to be; a willingness to give the very forgiveness I seek; a renunciation of the pride and the anger which cloud judgment, lead people to excuse and compare and to blame and complain." (President Bill Clinton's apology for the Lewinsky matter, with five words changed.)

5. "We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect." (President Barack Obama, apologing to the Muslim world.)

More from our Politics archive: "Scott McInnis: The waterlogged years (Pt. 3)."

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast