The host of an over-the-top, late-night Fox network show has apologized for disrespecting the Canadian military with a recent segment on his intentionally inflammatory program.

"The March 17th episode of Red Eye included a segment discussing Canada's plan for a 'synchronized break,' which was in no way an attempt to make light of troop efforts," host Greg Gutfeld said in a statement issued Monday.

"However, I realize that my words may have been misunderstood. It was not my intent to disrespect the brave men, women and families of the Canadian military, and for that I apologize."

Gutfeld described his show as "a satirical take on the news, in which all topics are addressed in a lighthearted, humorous and ridiculous manner." 

In an interview with the CBC on Monday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said he accepted the apology — pointing out it came only after his department contacted Fox demanding one earlier in the day. 

MacKay called the comments "totally, totally inappropriate, ridiculous [and] demeaning."

The vast majority of Americans, from President Barack Obama on down, "have nothing but respect and admiration for the Canadian forces and their families," he said.

"I don't think we should dignify this with more commentary other than to say it's highly regrettable," he added.

"The apology at least represents some recognition of the insensitivity — and we all move on."

Gutfeld, a former Maxim and Stuff magazine editor, hosts the cultural commentary show, which is broadcast on Fox weekdays at 3 a.m. ET.

He moderates a round table of panellists who deliver off-the-cuff musings and crack jokes about a wide range of topics from the worlds of news, entertainment and sports. Commentators have included comedians, Fox News anchors, actors and Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis.

'…The Canadian military wants to take a breather to do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white Capri pants.'— Greg Gutfeld, Fox News moderator

In a five-minute segment broadcast March 17, Gutfeld mocked the Canadian Forces, noting Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie's recent comment that the military may need a year to recover after Canada's mission in Afghanistan ends in 2011.

"Meaning, the Canadian military wants to take a breather to do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white Capri pants," Gutfeld said.

"I didn't even know they were in the war," panellist and comedian Doug Benson added. "I thought that's where you go if you don't want to fight. Go chill in Canada."

The panellists continued by joking about soldiers needing a break for "manicures and pedicures," how Canada should be invaded and poked fun at the RCMP.

Canadian soldiers, who have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, have spent the last four years in the country's most violent regions. On Friday, military officials announced that four more Canadian soldiers were killed and eight others were wounded in two separate roadside explosions outside Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan.

Canadians express outrage

Over the past few days, the Red Eye segment has sparked outrage from a range of Canadians, including thousands of comments on YouTube and Facebook.

"Our soldiers are dying for them and they have the audacity and the ignorance … to say something like that, it is insulting. It's the most ignorant thing I've ever heard," Sam Warren told CBC News after watching the segment.

The segment also drew criticism from Conservative author, columnist and commentator David Frum.

"The clip in question is a sequence of goofs about the feebleness, uselessness and absurdity of the Canadian armed forces. Why would I call that dumb? Here's why," Frum wrote on his New Majority.com blog last week, before listing the Canadian soldiers, aid workers and a diplomat who have been killed in Afghanistan since 2002.

"Sorry I disrespected your show, Red Eye fans, but you disrespected the dead," Frum added.

On Sunday, a post attributed to Gutfeld appeared on Twitter, which offered an apology of sorts.

"My apologies to the Canadian military, they probably could at least beat the Belgians," the posting read.

But Fox News told CBC News on Monday that Gutfeld does not have a Twitter account and did not write the post.

With files from the Canadian Press