People do bad things. They misspeak, mislead, and misbehave. They lie, cheat, steal, and kill. Often, afterward, they apologize. But what makes a successful apology? Why does Joe Biden's 2007 apology for referring to Barack Obama as "articulate and bright" succeed, whereas Mel Gibson's 2006 apology for his anti-Semitic tirade fails? Naturally, the effectiveness of an apology depends on the language used, as well as the conditions under which we offer our regrets.