MTV VMA Host Draws Rebuke for Crude Jokes, Purity Ring Remarks

LOS ANGELES – The biggest Hollywood buzz from Sunday's 2008 MTV Video Music Awards may have been Britney Spears' hailed comeback, but taking a close second would likely be the crude antics of little-known British comedian Russell Brand, who took shots at President Bush, Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, and the family-friendly Jonas Brothers, among others.

Brand, who is relatively unknown in the United States but is popular in the United Kingdom, urged Americans Sunday to vote for Barack Obama, called Bush "that retarded cowboy fella," and labeled Palin a "VILF."

"Some people – I think they're called racists – say America is not ready for a black president," the VMA host said in front of the celebrity-filled crowd at the Paramount Studios lot in Los Angeles. "But I know America to be a forward thinking country because otherwise, you know, would you have let that retarded cowboy fella be president for eight years?"

While Brand's political comments certainly brewed up a storm, what drew arguably the biggest response was Brand's repeated jabs at the Jonas Brothers and the purity rings they wear as a symbol of their vow not to have premarital sex.

The band of three brothers, whose father is a pastor, famously wear the rings on their left-hand ring finger to remind themselves of their "promise to ourselves and to God that we'll stay pure 'till marriage." They also abstain from alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

At one point during Brand's time onstage, the British funnyman pretended he'd stolen a Jonas Brother's virginity as he played with a ring in his hand.

"Let me tell you, it was an enjoyable and pleasant experience and I wish the rest of the Jonas brothers the best of luck because over the course of the evening I want a collection of these bloody things," he said.

Following Brand's comments, American Idol winner and fellow purity ring wearer Jordin Sparks took to the stage, and before presenting an award, defended the evangelical Christian brothers with a quick statement.

"I just wanna say, it's not bad to wear a promise ring because not every guy and a girl wants to be a slut, OK?" Sparks stated, drawing the applause of the crowd.

While many have been supportive of Sparks' stance, some have been angered by the implication that those who don't abstain are "sluts."

Sparks assured, however, that while she doesn't feel bad for what she said, she "didn't mean to offend anybody if I did."

The openly Christian music star also told's Pop Tarts column later Sunday night at the In Touch magazine after-party that she was more than happy to put Brand in his place.

"Somebody had to do it," she said.

Shortly after Sparks' onstage comment, Brand apologized, but managed to squeeze some punch-lines into his apologies – both onstage and off.

"I've gotta say sorry 'cause I said them things about promise rings; that was bad of me," he said before presenting television stars Lauren Conrad and Chase Crawford.

"I don't want to piss off teenage fans," he added before making another off-color joke.

"Promise rings, I'm well up for it … but a bit of sex, occasionally, never hurt anybody."

Offstage, Brand told The Associated Press, "I feel a bit bad that I kept talking about their vows to chastity, and I'd like to take this opportunity to say no one ever have sex again. It's a mad idea. What a way to spend an evening."

It is well known in the United Kingdom that Brand is a former heroin addict, sex addict, alcoholic and has had numerous run-ins with the police, having been arrested nearly a dozen times for public indecency. Brand talks openly about his addictions to sex and drugs in his autobiography My Booky Wook.