Time for a quiz! Of the following choices, which is an accurate description of Silvio Berlusconi? Check all that apply.
a) Three-time and current Prime Minister of Italy
b) Billionaire playboy and irrepressible scamp
c) Possibly Batman's civilian identity
d) The cantankerous, foul-mouthed star of a TV series, $#*! Berlusconi Says
We'll give you a hint--the answer's not d), outside of Ben Greenman's imagination. And we don't have proof that it might be c), although Berlusconi and Batman have never been seen in the same room together. But research confirms that a) is true. And there's ample evidence for b) as well.
In the past week, Berlusconi has been accused of paying a prostitute €10,000 for sex and ordering police in Milan to waive theft charges against a teenage Moroccan belly dancer who'd been to parties at his house. Berlusconi hasn't denied either of these accusations, which are only the latest entries in a long, colorful pageant of libertine behavior, punctuated by the occasional Holocaust joke.
Now, a new wrinkle: Nadia Macri, a call girl and aspiring model, claims that during a party at his Sardinia villa, Berlusconi supplied about 25 women with marijuana he'd flown in on his private jet. "There was grass available in all the rooms," Nacri told investigators. "I saw a number of guests smoking, but never the prime minister."
Oh, that Berlusconi! Weed and hooker parties--what are you gonna do? Actually, if you're the staff of The Economist, you can call for his resignation in the most highbrow terms imaginable. First refer to him as "the Burlesqueoni," and then write:
At the end of Leoncavallo's opera "Pagliacci," Canio the clown steps forward, after stabbing Silvio, to tell the audience "La commedia è finita." The curtain should now fall on the tragicomic reign of today's Silvio, too.