Milan president Silvio Berlusconi is probably the only political leader in the world who also owns a football club. The media mogul and current Italian Prime Minister is certainly one of the most colourful figures in the world of politics, but sometimes his comments go a bit too far.
Back in 2003, he sparked great controversy by telling a German politician, Martin Schulz, that he thought he would be a good choice for the role of a “German kapo”, a Nazi official, in a movie being produced in Italy.
This time, it’s new American president-elect Barack Obama who is the subject of Berlusconi’s bizarre sense of humour. When asked if he thought relations between the USA and Russia would change after Obama’s election, he said (through a translator): “I think Obama will get along very well with the Russian president, because they are both young, handsome, and… tanned!”
Berlusconi referred to the fact that Russian president Dmitry Medvedev is four years younger than Obama, who will become one of the youngest US Presidents ever at 47 years of age.
Predictably, this has already raised a lot of debate in Italy, but Berlusconi is refusing to apologise, and defended his joke to Italian news agencies.
“Why are they taking it as something negative? If they have no sense of humour, worse for them,” he said. Later, he told Sky TV-24 Ore that his comments were meant to be “cute” and bashed those who disagreed, saying they are “imbeciles, of which there are too many.”
Other notorious comments made by Berlusconi include a claim that Western civilization was superior to the Islamic culture, which he said not long after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and more recently, that the current Spanish government has too many women.