LOS ANGELES – George Clooney, who may be giving speeches again at next month's Academy Awards, says he has no regrets about making an off-color joke about disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff during last month's Golden Globes.
"I make no apologies for that — it was a joke," Clooney told CNN's Larry King on Thursday.
The 44-year-old actor-director made a risque reference to Abramoff's name as he accepted a best supporting actor Golden Globe for "Syriana."
Clooney is nominated for Oscars for best supporting actor for "Syriana" and best director for "Good Night, and Good Luck." He also shares a best original screenplay nomination with Grant Heslov for the latter film.
Abramoff's father, Frank, who didn't find the joke funny, wrote an angry letter to The Desert Sun newspaper of Palm Springs. He denounced Clooney for a "glib and ridiculous" attack on his son that he said reduced his granddaughter to tears.
Abramoff's son, who has pleaded guilty to fraud and bribery, has acknowledged providing lavish trips, golf outings, meals and more to public officials "in exchange for a series of official acts."
Since his guilty pleas, numerous politicians have rushed to return campaign contributions they took from him.
"Believe me, the person who's disparaged the Abramoff name is not me," Clooney told King. "Unfortunately, I think he also hurt the House of Representatives along the way."
Clooney said he admired Abramoff's father for sticking up for his son.
"I appreciate people who stick up for family members, even in the face of confessing to felonies," he said.