Friday, June 5, 2009

Again, Silvio

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday that he had used a state plane to ferry personal guests to his private villa -- but that there was nothing improper as he and other government officials were flying on the jet.

That's splitting hairs, or fudging it, which is Silvio's style. And it works, or has worked, for him.

An investigation has been started into whether the premier allegedly abused his powers by arranging for partygoers -- including a dancer and singer -- to use government aircraft and for official security escorts to travel to his villa on the island of Sardinia.

The man has so much money, but he chose a government craft because, well, because he wanted to.

Mr. Berlusconi said "all of these people were hosted at Certosa without a euro of cost to the state." He was speaking on a morning talk show on Italy's Canale 5 channel, which is part of the Berlusconi family's media company Mediaset SpA.

Rather incestuous, to be interviewed on a channel he owns.

Silvio has always maintained his innocence. This week, polls show Mr. Berlusconi's right-wing political coalition with a strong lead in the weeks leading up to elections for the European Parliament, which end Sunday.

They love Silvio, and he knows it.

In the U.K. a scandal involving widespread abuse of parliamentary expenses is expected to help send the ruling Labour Party to defeat in the European elections.

The British are different than Italians, and Gordon Brown is different than Silvio.

Last year, Mr. Berlusconi pushed a new law through Parliament that grants immunity from criminal prosecutions to Italy's top officials -- himself included.

Gordon could never do that. The press would skewer him, and he doesn't own any media.

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