NEW YORK (CNN) – David Letterman delivered another, more repentant apology for the off-color joke he made last week about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's daughter.
"It was kind of a coarse joke. There's no getting around it," Letterman said in the opening monologue of Monday night's show.
Letterman, who joked last Tuesday that Palin's "daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez" at a recent Yankees game, still insisted he was referring to Palin's 18-year-old, Bristol, who gave birth to a boy in December, and not her 14-year-old, Willow.
Related video: Letterman's joke was 'perverted,' says Palin
Palin has called that a "weak, convenient excuse" for a joke that was"inappropriate" no matter which daughter was the target.
"My 14-year-old was there with me at the game. She was the only one there with me," Palin said.
Letterman said Monday night that he now realizes, "It doesn't make any difference what my intent was, it's the perception."
"As they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it's not a very good joke," he said. "I take full blame for that."
"I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed," he said.
"So, I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke," Letterman said. "I'm sorry about it and I'll try to do better in the future.
The controversy comes at a time the late-night ratings battle between the "Late Show with David Letterman" on CBS and NBC's "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" is in the spotlight.
Letterman has gained ground in the two weeks since O'Brien took over hosting duties from Jay Leno.
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday officially named former U.S. President Bill Clinton as special envoy to Haiti.
The position calls for Clinton to work to create jobs and access to basic services for the people of Haiti.
"All I want to do is help the Haitians take over control of their own destiny," Clinton said.
"It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be," Obama told reporters at the White House. "We respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran."
"Having said all that, I am deeply troubled by the violence I've been seeing on television," he added. "I think that the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent - all those are universal values and need to be respected."
The United States and Iran have had no diplomatic relations since 1980, and their historic ties are strained from a U.S.-backed coup in 1953 and Washington's longtime support of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who came to power in the coup. Pahlavi was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic revolution that established the current Iranian government, which came to power calling the Washington the "Great Satan."
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Two key proposals to improve access to health insurance could reduce the ranks of the uninsured but cost $1 trillion over 10 years, according to preliminary estimates released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office.
The estimates are the first in a series over the next few months that will attempt to quantify the costs and benefits of various health reform options. President Obama, citing the huge part health care spending plays in the economy, has made passing reform this year a top priority.
The report by CBO, an independent agency that scores legislative proposals for lawmakers, focuses on proposals to create health insurance exchanges and subsidize the cost of insurance for some households.
The agency estimated that the exchange and subsidies could reduce the number of uninsured people by roughly 16 million by 2015. It is estimated there would otherwise be 51 million uninsured that year.
Full story on CNNMoney.com
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Tea Party movement appears to have produced its first official candidate for national office.
Tom Cox, the founder and chairman of the Arkansas Tea Party organization, announced at a rally on Monday that he will seek the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Blanche Lincoln.
Cox, who owns Aloha Pontoon Boats in North Little Rock, has never sought elected office before. But after organizing a large Tea Party protest against the administration's fiscal policies in April, Cox said a number of local activists approached him about entering the 2010 race.
"I just believe there is a growing movement across the United States to find candidates that are different, that are more business-minded and so forth because they are tired of our tax dollars beying wasted," he told CNN in a phone interview.
Cox brushed aside doubts about whether Tea Party fervor can be successfully harnessed by a political campaign. He said that unlike in other states, the Arkansas Tea Party effort is "very organized" and "not just anti-Obama." He also argued that because the Tea Party movement is "center of the road" on social issues and is primarily concerned with fiscal responsibility, his campaign will be primed to appeal to Democrats and independents.
"I'm sure I will be considered a long shot and a fringe candidate, but I can tell you, my family business has been in business for approximately 50 years," he said. "We will outwork anybody from Washington, D.C., and we will beat them at the grassroots effort in this state."
Before Cox can face Lincoln, he'll have to survive a Republican primary: State Sen. Kim Hendren has already declared he will seek the GOP nomination.
(CNN) – A CIA spokesman is sharply downplaying Director Leon Panetta 's recent comments that appear to question whether former Vice President Dick Cheney is hoping for another terrorist attack against the United States.
"The Director does not believe the former Vice President wants an attack," CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said in a statement to CNN. "He did not say that. He was simply expressing his profound disagreement with the assertion that President Obama's security policies have made our country less safe. Nor did he question anyone's motives."
The statement comes days after the New Yorker published an interview with Panetta during which he said Cheney's recent criticism of Obama – including the decision to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba – show the ex-vice president "smells some blood in the water on the national security issue."
"It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics," said Panetta. "When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point."
Cheney's office released a terse statement from the vice president Monday responding to the comments, saying "I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted."
"The important thing is whether or not the Obama Administration will continue the policies that have kept us safe for the last 8 years," Cheney said.
Vice President Joe Biden also appeared to distance himself from Panetta's comments Sunday, telling NBC "I don't question [Cheney's] motive."
– CNN's Pam Benson contributed to this report
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Thousands of Virginia Democrats got an email from President Barack Obama on Monday afternoon asking them to get involved in Creigh Deeds' campaign for governor - an appeal sure to help the cash-strapped Democrat raise money after his victory last week in an expensive three-way primary.
In the e-mail, Obama writes that Deeds will "bring the same bipartisan, pragmatic approach to politics that former Governor and now Senator Mark Warner and my friend Governor Tim Kaine used to help Virginia move forward over the past eight years."
The Democratic nominee has a tough fight ahead of him against Republican Bob McDonnell, who did not face a primary and entered the month of June with nearly $5 million in the bank.
Deeds, meanwhile, has been furiously soliciting donations in the wake of his come-from-behind primary win over Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran last Tuesday. At the end of May, Deeds had just over half a million dollars in his war chest and he spent heavily in the final days of the primary on television and Web ads targeted at northern Virginia voters.
Less than 24 hours after his win, Deeds sent out an e-mail to supporters pleading bluntly for donations: "We need to catch up," the e-mail said.
According to Organizing for America - the former Obama campaign organization now housed at Democratic party headquarters in Washington - Obama's message was sent to "hundreds of thousands" of Virginians on the e-mail lists of OFA and the Democratic National Committee.
Obama said he looks forward to "working with Creigh to keep the Commonwealth strong" and help the economy recover.
DNC chairman Tim Kaine said last week that Obama and Vice President Biden will both campaign for Deeds in Virginia this year.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican Bob McDonnell took a page from the Mark Warner playbook on Monday by announcing the formation of a group called "Virginians for McDonnell" - "a broad group of Democrats, Independents and Republicans" supporting his gubernatorial bid, according to his campaign.
The group is patterned after "Virginians for Warner," a committee of Republicans and independents that helped raise money for Mark Warner when he ran for governor in 2001 and for Senate in 2008. In both campaigns, Warner presented himself as a business-minded moderate who could rise above party politics.
McDonnell is taking a similarly pragmatic tack in 2009, even with a conservative voting record and ties to the religious right.
His rival in the race, Democrat Creigh Deeds, is a conservative Democrat who has pledged to follow in the footsteps of Warner and current governor Tim Kaine, both of whom remain popular among Virginia voters. Not surprisingly, Warner himself is sticking with his own party and supporting Deeds.
In 2008, the "Virginians for Warner" coalition counted among its ranks hundreds of Republican and independent officials.
But McDonnell's new group, which includes members from "Virginians for Warner," is considerably smaller: There are 22 members, a roster that includes a few Democrats but no major party figures holding elected office. Most of the group's members are independents and Republicans who supported Warner in the past but are now returning to the GOP fold.
(2:00 p.m. ET update with Cheney response)
(CNN) - Dick Cheney's recent criticism of the Obama administration's national security policies suggests the former vice president is almost "wishing" the United States gets hit with another terrorist attack, according to CIA Director Leon Panetta.
During an interview in the current issue of the New Yorker, Panetta says Cheney's wide range of recent criticisms of Obama - including the decision to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba - show the ex-vice president "smells some blood in the water on the national security issue."
Asked about Panetta's comments during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden said he would refrain from questioning his predecessor's motives.
"I think Dick Cheney's judgment about how to secure America is faulty," Biden said. "I think our judgment is correct. I don't question his motive."
But Panetta, the former White House chief of staff under President Clinton, also said in the New Yorker interview it was "dangerous politics" for Cheney to repeatedly insist President Obama has made the country less safe.
Among Cheney's criticism is Obama's decision to cease the CIA's use of enhance interrogation techniques to extract information from terrorist suspects - a practice the former vice president says yielded information that prevented massive terrorist attacks, though he says security reasons prevent him from revealing specifically to which incidents he is referring.
Panetta said he supports the president's decision and, like Obama, does not think CIA agents who engaged in the techniques under President Bush should be prosecuted.
"I'm going to give people the benefit of the doubt," he said. "If they do the job that they're paid to do, I can't ask for a hell of a lot more."
UPDATE: In a statement provided to CNN, Cheney said, "I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted."
"The important thing is whether or not the Obama Administration will continue the policies that have kept us safe for the last 8 years."