While American bankers appear and act oblivious to crimes of their actions while we go into into nation-crushing amounts of debt to pay for their sins, their British counterparts seem to see the writing on the wall. And they’re taking a different approach to respond to the crisis: They’re apologizing.

The former heads of banks bailed out by the British state amid the credit crunch gave unreserved apologies Tuesday for their conduct, and agreed changes to the bonus system were needed.

Dennis Stevenson, the former chairman of HBOS, told the Treasury Select Committee investigating the crisis that he and the bank’s former chief executive Andy Hornby were “profoundly sorry.”

Fred Goodwin, previously chief executive of RBS and a man nicknamed “Fred the Shred” for his aggressive style, added: “I apologised in full and I’m happy to do so again.” He said there was a “profound and unqualified apology for all of the distress that has been caused.”

Stevenson said: “All of us have lost a great deal of money, including of course a great number of our colleagues, and we are very sorry for that.

Sure, apologies won’t fix what’s wrong, they can’t change the past, but it sure is nice to see men of power own up to their mistakes. Humble apologies go a long way. If only the captains of the American banking industry had the courage to face their nation and do the same.

President Obama, it seems to me that we ought not to close down Guantanamo Bay so fast. Let’s turn it into a destination resort for American bank executives who haven’t demonstrated an ounce of personal shame from the destruction they have wrought.