Letterman apologizes to Palin

David Letterman is making a full-throated apology for his controversial joke about Alaska Gov.

Sarah Palin's daughter.

During a taping of tonight's edition of his CBS "Late Show," Letterman went much further than his last explanation of the joke, in which he quipped that a baseball player had "knocked up" Palin's daughter.

"I told a bad joke," Letterman said. "I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke."

Letterman thought he was cracking wise about Palin's 18-year-old, Bristol, who last year served as a campaign surrogate for her mom's effort to become vice-president. But the Palins took it as a jab at their 14-year-old, and reacted with sharp criticism of Letterman.

Letterman offered a semi-apology last week, but that was greeted with even more criticism from Palin partisans. With word of an anti-Letterman protest scheduled for tomorrow, Letterman decided to try to clear the air once more and put the matter behind him.

I'm wondering, 'Well, what can I do to help people understand that I would never make a joke like this?' I've never made jokes like this as long as we've been on the air, 30 long years, and you can't really be doing jokes like that. And I understand, of course, why people are upset. I would be upset myself.”

— David Letterman