Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy, has a libido as big as President Obama’s latest budget. He added the concept of the “bunga bunga party” to the global lexicon of hedonism. No one is exactly sure what Berlusconi means when he says “bunga bunga,” but the BBC tried to figure it out last week, producing a narrative that includes German actresses, dirty jokes, Virginia Woolf, and Moammar Gaddafi. I also distinctly remember Bugs Bunny using the phrase in a classic Warner Brothers cartoon, but the Beeb doesn’t mention that, because they are culturally deprived over in England.
Now an Italian court has indicted Berlusconi for attempting to bunga bunga a 17-year-old Moroccan belly dancer. The report of his debauchery is said to be 782 pages long, which is almost as long as the instructions for safely disposing of a broken compact fluorescent light bulb. According to the Associated Press, Berlusconi has dismissed the charges as “groundless” and “a farce.” He probably should have been made to read the report in full before denying it, with cameras rolling to catch the moments when he smiled and nodded before turning the page.
The prosecution says Berlusconi paid for sex with the underage prostitute, and used his political influence to get her out of jail after she was busted for theft. Both the Prime Minister and the belly dancer deny they had a sexual relationship, and insist he is just a kindly old grandfatherly type who sometimes gives attractive young girls $9,550 in gifts upon their first meeting.
As it happens, paying for sex is not illegal in Italy, unless the prostitute is under 18 years of age. It’s a wonder such a nation of prudes has been able to endure for so long. Even more remarkably, abuse of influence by government officials is technically illegal, although if this law were aggressively enforced, it would reboot the entire country. Berlusconi could do four to twelve years in stir if he’s found guilty on the latter charge. He’s already been hit with tax fraud and bribery charges from other plaintiffs.
Things look a bit dicey for Berlusconi, as women have been holding rallies across the country to denounce him, and the computerized judicial selection system managed to draw three female judges to hear his case. The opposition party is already calling for him to resign his office, to “free Italy” from being “the laughing stock of the world.” I think they’re safe for the time being, as America’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is currently the Laughingstock of the World, and I don’t think he plans to relinquish the title without a fight.
Berlusconi says the whole ugly mess is a “political vendetta” against him. Maybe it’s the first bunga bunga vendetta. If the mounting charges against the Prime Minister are a political hit job, it cannot be said that he was a hard target. Well, okay, maybe some of the guests at his bunga bunga parties would say that.