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For the first time outside the comfort of his Late Show set, David Letterman addressed his recent sex scandal during a rare visit to Live with Regis & Kelly.

After Regis Philbin posed a potentially awkward question about Letterman’s home life, Dave opened up with sincerity about cheating on wife Regina Lasko.

“I don’t know if people know this, but I’ve had some trouble,” he joked. “You know when something like this happens – and mostly it was reckless behavior on my part – if you behave recklessly and it hurts your family, then of course it hurts you.

“It was not a tragedy, it was just stupidity. And thank God, because we all know what tragedies are, and we all know how horrifying and scarring… and you just can’t get beyond some of these. We all know what we’re talking about.”

If nothing else, Letterman is refreshingly candid about his own failings.

“You read about [these tragedies] every day. It’s just godawful. And when you’re a parent, this is your worst nightmare. So it wasn’t that, thank God.”

What it was, Letterman continued uninterrupted about the extortion case that blew the lid off his affair with staffer Stephanie Birkitt, was stupidity.

Pure stupidity, with no one to blame but himself.

“It was stupid behavior … [an explosion] where you wake up every morning and you’re scared and you’re depressed and sad and you kind of gotta let that knock you down … and pretty soon you’ve gotta start knocking it down.”

“And then when that happens, you’re able to take a look at the pieces left of your life, because you think an explosion has taken place, and you’re looking at the shards and you see, well, can we put this back together?”

“By god, maybe you can put it back together, and maybe it won’t be the same, but maybe it’ll be different, maybe it can even be better in a different way.”

“So that’s what we’re doing, we’re putting the thing back together to see what it will look like. Is it viable, is it something that can be satisfying, fulfilling.”

Tiger Woods, take note. This is how you address your past transgressions if you want people to respect you again. We hope so. Here’s a clip of Dave …

Letterman on Regis & Kelly
Photo via JOHN FILO