Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Bush administration forced to apologize for insulting Berlusconi

Perhaps out of unresolved anger over Italy's withdrawal from the Iraq occupation, but more likely out of sheer stupidity and ineptitude, the Bush administration released a press kit for the G8 summit in which it describes Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as,

    "a political dilettante who gained his high office only through the use of his considerable influence on the national media."
But wait, that's not all.

The White House also wants the media to know that Berlusconi is,

    "one of the most controversial leaders in the history of a country known for governmental corruption and vice[.]"
AND, that Berlusconi is,

    "hated by many but respected by all at least for his bella figura (personal style) and the sheer force of his will".
Well, that is a bracing departure from the usual diplomatic happy talk, isn't it?

According to Reuters, the White House appears to have pulled its descriptions of Berlusconi from the Encyclopedia of World Biography Supplement.

The Bush administration has issued an official apology. No word as to whether it will fire the person or persons who not only copied and pasted the Berlusconi bio without reading it (presumably), but failed so miserably at proofing the press kit before it went to the printer.

One wonders if the Italian PM still considers Bush a "personal friend."

And for what it is worth, the Encyclopedia's bio of George W. Bush includes the following nuggets:

    "Although George W. became actively involved in sports, playing baseball, basketball, and football, his high school academic record was far from exceptional. However, through his family's powerful connections, Bush landed a spot at Yale University in Connecticut, where both his father and grandfather had attended."


    "Grades were not a high priority, and because of his mischievous behavior, Bush had a few minor run-ins with the law."


    "Later, after beginning his political career, questions arose about how he had managed to avoid serving in the Vietnam War (1965–75; a war fought in Vietnam in which the United States supported South Vietnam in its fight against a takeover by North Vietnam). He was a member of a Texas Air National Guard unit stationed at Ellington Air Force Base. The unit included other sons of powerful people. At the time, the National Guard had a long waiting list of young men eager to avoid combat service in Vietnam during the war, but Bush managed to sail through easily."


    "Bush's first attempt to strike oil was not successful. In 1977, after the unsuccessful business venture, Bush became interested in politics..."
I'd like to see the White House press office work those quotes into its next news release.

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