Jesse James on Nazi Photo: Just a Joke!

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Jesse James claims that Nazi pic making the rounds is really just a joke. Seriously, who among us hasn't donned a Nazi hat and saluted Hitler in a photograph?!

Running some serious damage control for his much-maligned client, the cheater's lawyer says the hat in the Jesse James Nazi photo does not make him a Nazi.

In fact, it was just a joke, and a gift - from a Jewish mentor! Ah, the obligatory "I totally have Jewish friends" excuse! You knew it was only a matter of time.

The phot may have been in poor taste, but it was given as a gag to James by his Jewish godfather, attorney Joe Yanny said, denying that he's an anti-Semite.

Moreover, Yanny said James lived for a month in an Israeli kibbutz. So he's basically Jewish himself, and totally down with those peeps. Lay off Jesse James!

NO NEO-NAZI: Jesse James' lawyer denies he is.

Yanny refused to talk about the James-Bullock marriage, which unraveled when Michelle McGee - who also has Nazi pics out there - alleged an affair with him.

"I understand people's desire in newsworthy stories, but I would hope that by now this wasn't such a newsworthy story such that his basic rights and privacy aren't continuously invaded in an improper manner," Yanny told CNN.

He said "99 percent" of what has published about James in recent weeks is untrue ... which we highly doubt. The foursome account? Maybe that's untrue.

But the Nazi pic and affairs themselves seemed ridiculous at first, too.

In any case, James is in rehab "to deal with personal issues" in a bid to save his marriage to actress Sandra Bullock, a spokeswoman for James said.

"He realized that this time was crucial to help himself," his rep said. "I request that his rights in regards to privacy and medical matters be respected."

Sandra Bullock should ...

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