Jesse James' lawyer says the controversial biker, 40, was just joking when he posed like Adolf Hitler around 2004. The disturbing photo is featured in the new Us Weekly (on newsstands now).

On Wednesday, Lawyer Joe Yanny told CNN that the German Nazi hat worn by James in the photo was actually a "gag gift" from James' Jewish godfather.

While in poor taste, possessing or wearing the accessory doesn't make James a neo-Nazi, Yanny said.

To further prove that James is no anti-Semite, Yanny revealed that James once lived in an Israeli kibbutz for nearly a month.

So why did James take the photo in the first place?

"He did it for shock value," a source tells the new Us Weekly.

In his CNN interview, Yanny would not elaborate on why James recently entered rehab (four women have claimed to have had fling with James during his marriage to Sandra Bullock). Yanny said simply that James checked in "to deal with personal issues ... He realized that this time was crucial to help himself, help his family and help save his marriage."

It has been rumored that James is being treated at the Sierra Tucson Rehabiltation Center in Arizona. Ironically, that is where his estranged wife Bullock, 45, visited 10 years ago to research a role as an alcoholic in the comedy 28 Days.