A major story in USA Today this week asks if we can forgive our celebrities for their human failings.
From personal indiscretions like Bill Clinton or Tiger Woods to outright crimes like Mike Vick's involvement in dog fighting, there rarely are stories much bigger than watching the mighty ascend the heights only to fall in spectacular fashion.
The story goes on to say that while we revel in the misfortunes of others we are also a nation of forgivers.
"The Land of Second Chances," is how one put it.
That trait is being sorely tested this week as Lance Armstrong sits down with Oprah Winfrey and confesses to doping while winning seven Tour de France titles, a charge that has dogged him for years.
Armstrong said all the right things in the interview, how he did it and was sorry he did it and wouldn't do it again.
But there are different levels of crimes. Tiger Woods and his womanizing didn't affect me personally, that was a crime against his wife and family.
He may not be someone I'd want to invite over to the house, but it really doesn't impact my ability to watch him hit a seven iron to within three feet of the pin from 205 yards away.
Armstrong seems worse. He made me believe that an American with the right drive and determination could be the best in the world.
The fact that he went after his accusers so vehemently and wrapped himself in the flag so completely made me think that perhaps it was just sour grapes from people who couldn't beat him fairly on the pavement.
Turns out it was all a lie and now I can't help but believe that the selfishness that led to his initial sins might be back; that he is going public because financially he has to and not because he wants to.
Sincerity is what seems to be in short supply these days.
The one thing all of our celebrities and athletes have in common is the need for us to watch. That's where the glory and the legacy and the paychecks come from.
The power is still with us; if someone's personal shortcomings makes you uninterested in the professional achievements the solution is simple.