The United States may no longer lead the world in automobile manufacturing but, when it came to generating sex scandals in 2009, no other country could compare (though dishonorable mentions must go out to France and Italy). Here are some of the most memorable confessions, obfuscations and verbal slip-ups in the words of the "transgressors" themselves:
"I regret those transgressions with all of my heart."
— Golfer Tiger Woods on November 29, shortly before details of as many as 13 mistresses were made public
"I have had sex with women who work for me on this show."
— Talk show host David Letterman tells it like it is on "The Late Show," October 1
Most Lettermanesque confession, global division
"I got into the habit of paying for boys. The profusion of young, very attractive and immediately available boys put me in a state of desire that I no longer needed to restrain or hide."
— Frederic Mitterand, the French culture minister, who was vilified after details of his trips to Thailand to visit rent boys were unearthed. The minister had actually confessed to his Bangkok habit in a 2005 autobiography, but opposition politicians seized on its scandal potential after Mitterand's appointment to Nicolas Sarkozy's cabinet.
Most excruciating leaked quote
"So I am getting into spanking her… Yeah, I like it… I like spanking her. She goes, I know you like spanking me, I said yeah, that's 'cause you're such a bad girl."
— Mike Duval, a Republican Assemblyman in California, caught on microphone in September boasting of an affair with a woman 19 years his junior.
Most lyrical come-on
"Please sleep soundly knowing that, despite the best efforts of my head, my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul."
— South Carolina governor Mark Sanford's e-mail to Maria Belen Shapur, his Argentinian lover, published in The State, June 25
Most inaccurate prediction
"...quiet and secretively we will always be together."
— Tiger Woods, in a text to alleged mistress Jaimee Grubbs, as revealed in New York Post, December 10
Most inarguable excuse
"I'm no saint."
— Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in September, after being accused of having an affair with an 18-year-old, hosting orgies at his Sardinian villa, and offering a European Parliament seat to a prostitute in exchange for sex.
Least original pick-up line
"You're so hot."
— Rielle Hunter's first words to Sen. John Edwards, who later fathered a child with the campaign aide. Hunter's line was revealed by Edwards' wife Elizabeth on the Oprah Winfrey Show in May.
Least convincing claim
"While he's glad you decided to stay at home, he enjoys being with me because I have more of a passion and drive to really do something with my life."
— Letter from unhinged, "Star Wars"-fanatic Brooke Hundley to the wife of ESPN analyst Steve Phillips, with whom Hundley was having an affair, as revealed in New York Post, October 22
Worst track record of hypocrisy
1999: "[Clinton] has no credibility left"
2004: "Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded"
2009: "I deeply regret and am very sorry for my actions."
— Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev) calling for the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky affair; supporting a gay-marriage ban five years later; and revealing his own extramarital affair with a young intern this past June.
Best piece of advice for celebrity adulterers
"If you tell the truth, the problem becomes part of your past. If you lie, it becomes part of your future."
— Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino, who admitted in August to having had extramarital sex with a local woman in 2003. The woman subsequently attempted to blackmail him for $10 million. Pitino remains in his position.
READ RELATED STORIES FROM THE WEEK:
• Tiger Woods' mistresses: A complete guide
• Mark Sanford's e-mail exchange with Maria Belen Shapur
• David Letterman's apologies
• Before Carrie Prejean: 7 disgraced beauty queens
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Pope Francis' American problem
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- A brief history of the Christmas present
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The week's best photojournalism
- 10 things you need to know today: December 20, 2014
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- 4 things NASA can teach you about a good night's sleep
Subscribe to the Week