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This is what the rehabilitation of Mayor Vince Gray looks like: WUSA9’s Bruce Johnson in a room that’s decorated like a La Quinta. In what’s being touted as his first apology for failing to notice Sulaimon Brown and the malfeasance of the shadow campaign during his 2010 mayoral run, Gray sat for an interview yesterday with Johnson and said he’s sorry.

“Frankly, the things that happened in my campaign, you know, they were painful, they were embarrassing to me,” Gray says in the interview. “There were things that I wish hadn’t happened and I’m very sorry that those things happened.”

Later, Gray apologizes again, while still saying he didn’t know about the crimes that have resulted in guilty pleas from friends Vernon Hawkins and Thomas Gore, among others.

“I didn’t do anything, at the same time I want to apologize to people about the campaign,” Gray says. “I can’t apologize for what other people did, but it was the Vincent Gray campaign, I understand that.”

“There were things that I wish hadn’t happened” sits slightly above “I’m sorry if people were offended” in the hierarchy of C-list apologies, and it’s not even one Gray’s eager to repeat. Talking to reporters last night, Gray declined to repeat his apology, saying that LL would have to tune into more of Johnson’s interview later that night to hear more from his mea culpa. (WUSA9’s programming director must be thrilled.)

Gray also says it’s not fair to characterize the WUSA9 interview as his first public apology for the campaign. He insists this isn’t the first time he’s apologized for his campaign underlings who were involved in the shadow campaign.

“I’ve said I’m sorry to other people,” Gray tells LL. Gray declined to specify when he’s previously apologized.

Gray says there’s no agenda behind the timing of his televised apology, three days before his campaign kick-off at Ward 8 community center THEARC. “I chose the opportunity to do it,” Gray tells LL. “I have done it, I invite you all to listen to it.”