Tiger Woods Tails Behind in Cad-o-Meter Rating

Cad_O_Meter scale. Letterman, Woods, Spitzer, Edwards.ABC News Photo Illustration
Cad_O_Meter scale.

Bad boy behavior -- American-style -- always culminates in a public apology. How many ways can the rich and famous say, "I am a cad"? Consider these.

Use a Big Word: "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart." -- Tiger Woods, 2009

Admit You're a 'Creep': "I do terrible, terrible things." -- Late Show Host David Letterman, 2009

Try to Get Back in Good Graces (Not): "I am going to try to fall back in love with my wife!" -- S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford, 2008

Invite Flogging: "If you want to beat me up feel free." -- Presidential candidate John Edwards, 2008

Invoke Civic Duty: "I apologize to the public, whom I promised better." -- N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer, 2008

Come out of the Closet -- "I am a gay American." N.J. Gov. James McGreevey, 2004

Buy a Big Rock -- "I love my wife with all my heart" -- NBA Star Kobe Bryant, 2003

Blame Press, Dump Wife: "You should be ashamed of yourselves." -- N.Y. Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 2001

First Lie : "I did not have sexual relations with that woman," and then Talk to God: "I sinned." -- Bill Clinton, 1999

Goad the Press: "Follow me around. I don't care." -- Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, 1987

Is there any good way to come clean? And what can history tell us about how Tiger Woods might confess to tail-chasing? Enquiring minds want to know.

"The best model for Tiger is Kobe Bryant," said Ask E. Jean, the relationship counselor from Elle magazine. "Did you see the size the rock on that girl's hand?"

Three days after prosecutors charged the NBA megastar with the rape of a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort, Bryant bought his wife an 8-carat purple diamond ring worth about $4 million. (Charges against Bryant were later dropped after the complainant refused to testify.)

"Tiger, give your wife Elin a big ring -- big, big -- and tell her she is right and tell her that for the next year," E. Jean told told ABCNews.com. "Tell her you are sorry and not going to do it anymore. That you learned a lesson and the pain was too great."

America's obsession with the sex lives of powerful figures may have begun as early as 1974. A drunk, 74-year-old House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Wilbur Mills was stopped by Washington, D.C., police at 2 a.m. with his companion, stripper Fanni Fox -- the "Argentine Firecracker" -- who jumped into the Tidal Basin

Former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart may have been the first to get caught in his flagrant tryst with Donna Rice aboard the yacht, "Monkey Business," when he was a presidential hopeful in 1987.

He taunted the press to catch him in flagrante delicto and then acted surprised when they did.

We've come a long way, baby, from President Bill Clinton's excuse for having sex with intern Monica Lewinsky. ["That depends on what you mean by the word is," he famously told inquisitors.]

Woods offered a "profound apology" Wednesday, the same day tabloid magazines named a third woman, Las Vegas nightclub marketing executive Kalika Moquin to his list of alleged sexual conquests.

Moquin refused to confirm or deny the allegations, but waitress Jamie Grubbs claims to have slept with Woods. New York party promoter Rachel Uchitel has also denied having affair.

News began to leak out nearly one week ago after the Florida Highway Patrol reported Woods was in "serious condition" after an early morning car accident on his gated estate.

For five days he puttered around press and police before admitting to vague "transgressions," invoking his family's privacy.

Not yet out of the woods, he follows a trail of powerful men who got caught with mistresses.

Eliot Spitzer, who forced his ashen wife to stand by his side in 2008 while he confessed to paying for a prostitute -- he was client number 9 -- ranks high on the cad-o-meter.

So does John Edwards, who fathered a child while his wife had terminal cancer. He perhaps used unfortunate wording in 2003, confessing he was "stripped bare" and had to work things out with his family.

Some are noted for their chutzpah: When New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was caught with a girlfriend in 2001, he didn't apologize, but announced at a news conference he was divorcing his wife, journalist Donna Hanover.

So, too was New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey when he dropped the bombshell -- quivering wife at his side -- that he had an adulterous affair with Golan Cipel, a male former security aide

South Carolina's Gov. Mark Sanford was exposed in cheesy e-mails to his Argentinean mistress and "soul mate" ["I love your tan lines."]

But don't forget the contributions he has made to the American vernacular when he told his staff he would be out of contact: "I've been out hiking on the Appalachian Trail." (In fact, he had hiked on down to see his mistress.)

"Every single one of these men is a high testosterone guy -- most of these guys cannot even cross their legs they are so filled to the brim with testosterone," said E. Jean.

"If a woman marries a high testosterone guy, she can expect him to be a cad. You love him. He's brilliant, funny, great in the sack, attractive. But he will scoot around behind your back."

Men and Women Cheat Alike

Perhaps Americans should not be too shocked.

In an 2004 ABC poll among people who had ever been married or in a significant relationship, 14 percent said they'd cheated at some point. (10 percent of them were women and 17 percent men.)

Of the 20 letters a day E. Jean receives from women, about one-quarter say they suspect their husbands of cheating or are about to cheat.

"It's human nature to go for everything we can get," she told ABCNews.com. "If you want someone to be true to you, marry the dull, sweet, not very competent guy."

Prominent psychologist Frank Farley, an expert on risk-taking and sex from Temple University in Philadelphia, studies men like Tiger Woods who have what he calls "type T" personalities.

Along with Americans' demand for public heroes who are "not wimps," they get men who have affairs, he told ABCNews.com.

To understand public figures, first look at their jobs: "It's not 9 to 5 and restricted to one location, the rules of success are not clear, people can get voted out on a whim and no playbook is guaranteed," said Farley. "There is no tenure or job security -- it's an unpredictable career."

"Who's attracted to this?" he asks. "T types" -- risk takers who are creative, fearless, thrive on unpredictability and stimulation. "And what we found is they are sexual and sexy. They tend to like sex a lot."

"In everything from their eye contact to their body language, they are attractive to people," said Farley. "We've been analyzing a lot of data on Craigslist and we see a lot of women saying they want a 'man who can take charge.'"

Bill Clinton -- who survived impeachment in 1999 for sex with an intern -- is the "poster child" for the type T personality, he said.

The former president found eventual redemption with his family and went on to establish a philanthropic foundation. His wife, now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, forgave her errant husband and went on to launch her own political career.

"Forgiveness does more positive things for the person who does the forgiving than it does for the forgiven," Farley said. "At the end of the day, Clinton pulled this rabbit out the hat. In the end, it didn't interfere with is performance."

"Tiger Woods needs resolution along the Clinton lines," said Farley.

For Tiger Woods, Honesty Counts

Honesty is one of the six traits that Americans admire most in their heroes. "It worked for Letterman," he said. "We don't hear much about that anymore."

Talk show host Letterman revealed to his television audience this fall that he had been blackmailed for sleeping with one of his writers -- and had a string of "creepy" office affairs in the past.

As for Woods, who is reportedly now in counseling with his wife Elin, the jury is out on his standing on the cad-o-meter scale.

"If I were the wife, I would look to Letterman, because he fessed up right away and he did what all these people fail to do -- he didn't make excuses and deny," said Amelia Parry, editor in chief of The Frisky, which covers pop culture and relationships. "Before anything came out, he went public with it."

"The classic mistake made by high-profile people is they don't come out with it all at once," she told ABCNews.com. "They admit to one part they are busted for and don't admit to anything else. Then people start nosing around and find out everything."

Denying the accusations, Woods "initially seemed very sincere," said Parry. "But it was clearly not true, he'd had multiple affairs and he kicked himself in the pants."

"He seems like such an upstanding guy and preppie," she said. "He looks like he never takes a sip of alcohol and now I read he's a bit of a party guy. We saw him as a flawless golfer with a dedicated career since he was 2, with a profound relationship with his dad."

"He is admired by so many people," said Parry. "I think it's shocking that someone so perfect is imperfect."