You know who loves Jesse James right now?
Tiger Woods and John Edwards.
As you all know, Jesse James—the reality TV mechanic, not the bank robber—is married to America’s current sweetheart, Sandra Bullock. When she won an Academy Award this month for her role in The Blind Side, Bullock thanked “Helga B,” her mother, “a trailblazer who allowed me to have—that.”
She pointed to the audience as the camera panned over to James, tearful and proud, and everyone watching at home assumed she was referring to her husband. We all sighed a collective sigh.
Turns out it was a sham. Bullock moved out of her house one week later, just days before reports surfaced that James carried on an 11-month affair with Michelle “Bombshell” McGee, a tattoo fetish model, while Bullock was filming The Blind Side.
Just days after Bullock walked, James issued an apology.
The vast majority of the allegations reported are untrue and unfounded. Beyond that, I will not dignify these private matters with any further public comment. There is only one person to blame for this whole situation, and that is me. 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.
Kind of a confusing message, wouldn’t you say? Imagine if your boss confronted you about something and you said, “Most of what you just said is untrue. I don’t want to say anymore about it. I’m sorry. It’s my fault.”
On the asshole scale, James ranks somewhere between Eliot Spitzer and Tiger Woods, and well below Jon Edwards. And yet, compared to all three of these cheaters, James did what so many PR pundits advise: He wasted no time issuing a statement (unlike Tiger) that didn’t involve a weird press conference with his humiliated wife by his side (like Spitzer) and he didn’t at first deny (all) the charges (like Edwards).
So, despite his vague apology, it seems—on paper, at least—James followed the rules of public relations. And yet, when the actions of all four of these men are washed away by the fog of pop culture minutia, Woods and Spitzer will come out on top. Edwards will be the ultimate creep. And James, well, one day soon the world will return to its balance and when we refer to Jesse James we’ll mean the famous outlaw, not the reality TV star who married into Hollywood fame.
Spitzer and Woods have a talent or knack or whatever you want to call it that will shine through their boorish behavior, for better or for worse. When Tiger returns to the golf course for next month’s Masters Tournament, he’ll sink an amazing putt or drive the ball a mile and we’ll all lament the many months golf suffered without his presence.
Meanwhile, Spitzer, the man who took on Wall Street as attorney general of New York, will come riding on to the political scene, reformed and rejuvenated, ready to take on the greedy capitalists. He’s already taken incremental steps towards this comeback: writing a column for Slate.com and appearing on talk shows to discuss politics, not his affair with a prostitute.
Americans won’t forgive their behavior; we’ll forget it, conveniently.
James might be a talented mechanic, but he’s also a reality TV star. And they are disposable. No PR pro in the world could bring him back from the brink.