Two recent incidents have brought home to me how confused we are about character. Michael Vick was fined by the NFL for making an obscene hand gesture at fans after a football game. He admits what he did was wrong (good!), but then messes up by going farther and saying it is not in his character to do something like that. Obviously it was in his character, since he did it. I think he meant that he feels bad about it, and he will work on not doing it again, but he could just mean he gets a pass because he doesn't do this kind of thing all the time.
Michael Richards, from Seinfeld, was caught on film unleashing some ugly and racist talk at two audience members from his stand-up comedy show. He says that he is sorry (good), but then explains how he is not a racist, so he doesn't know where all the invective came from. Um, Michael -- you are a racist. The fact that you were made uncomfortable, and were heckled is unfortunate. But when you lost it, you went straight for racist remarks. That makes you a racist, just not habitual about expressing it.
Both men should have just said that they were sorry, and that they regretted their actions. Period, end of statement. To make an excuse that you really aren't the way you behaved is ridiculous and makes any apology seem insincere. How you behave under duress is part of your character. Deal with it.