Ah, okay. The issue was not one of the GPL applying "except for.." but rather that Sun was using the power to interpret what code would be considered "derived" and thus being under copyleft. If you wanted to use certain of the mobile edition classes, you had to have some other license if you weren't willing to make your code GPL.
The language in Oracle's license declaration is:
"CLASSPATH" EXCEPTION TO THE GPL
Certain source files distributed by Oracle America and/or its affiliates are subject to the following clarification and special exception to the GPL, but only where Oracle has expressly included in the particular source file's header the words "Oracle designates this particular file as subject to the "Classpath" exception as provided by Oracle in the LICENSE file that accompanied this code."
Linking this library statically or dynamically with other modules is making a combined work based on this library. Thus, the terms and conditions of the GNU General Public License cover the whole combination.
As a special exception, the copyright holders of this library give you permission to link this library with independent modules to produce an executable, regardless of the license terms of these independent modules, and to copy and distribute the resulting executable under terms of your choice, provided that you also meet, for each linked independent module,
the terms and conditions of the license of that module. An independent module is a module which is not derived from or based on this library. If you modify this library, you may extend this exception to your version of
the library, but you are not obligated to do so. If you do not wish to do
so, delete this exception statement from your version.
Which would, indeed, make it a copyleft issue for the non-covered classes.
With Google using a differently licensed reimplementation of the class libraries, they are able to avoid having any mandatory copyleft requirement apply to Android developers, but patents are separate.