Under immense pressure from Republican critics, David Letterman apologized last night for a joke about Sarah Palin’s daughter. But he made the mistake of saying it would have been somewhat more justified — though still a lousy joke — had it been clear he intended her 18-year-old daughter, not her 14-year-old, as the butt of it.

No. He should have left Palin’s kids out of his monologue. Period. He should have offered an unqualified apology sooner. Period. The Alaska governor offers ample comic material.

PS — Wonkette is right. Gov. Palin’s “vapid, snarling” comeback elicits no sympathy for Caribou Barbie.