Welcome to Declassified, a weekly humor column.
It’s been a rough few weeks for former Italian Prime Minister and Bunga Bunga-enthusiast Silvio Berlusconi. After being treated for chronic leukemia, the aging lothario was moved out of intensive care earlier this month. That means he can receive visitors, and he has — which at least gives the poor nurses a break from all that groping.
Among the visitors was the mother of Marta Fascina, the 86-year-old Berlusconi’s 32-year-old girlfriend. Nothing unusual there (by which I mean receiving visitors in hospital is not unusual, whereas a 54-year age gap is) except that Fascina’s mom is called Angela Della Morte, which translates as “Angel of Death” — not an ideal name for a visitor when you’re just out of intensive care.
Staying in Italy, it’s been a bad week for the country’s tourism ministry, which put out a video featuring a computerized version of Botticelli’s Venus as if she was a — shudder — social media influencer. It also features a group of young people smiling on a patio drinking wine. How very Italian! Except they aren’t in Italy drinking Italian wine, they are in Slovenia drinking Slovenian wine. Oops.
Our journey eastward continues to Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán continues to provide excellent value on the burning tire fire that is Elon Musk’s Twitter. First he responded to a POLITICO article on NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg declaring that “Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO” with a one-word response: “What?!” It probably took as long to type that as it did to decide whether to help Kyiv in its fight against the Russian invaders.
Then Orbán visited the Hungexpo exhibition center in Budapest and as well as taking numerous selfies with young people, was taken (and, quite frankly, dreamy-eyed) as he watched a man in traditional dress brandish a massive whip. Never one to miss an opportunity to look macho, Orbán grabbed the whip and began swirling and cracking it with the fervor of a man imagining he was in a conference room in Brussels being told the next tranche of EU coronavirus funding had been withheld because of rule-of-law abuses.
He accompanied a video of the whip heroics with the rather menacing phrase “That’s why you don’t mess with Hungarians” and the sunglasses emoji. It was quite a disturbing sight, although obviously not as bad as last month when he visited a pizzeria that serves a dish in his honor with the toppings chicken breast, jalapeño peppers and slices of orange (and yes, the orange is the logo of Orbán’s party, Fidesz, but that doesn’t make putting it on pizza less of a hate crime).
“EU-funded remake of ‘Titanic’ suffers from inevitable lack of consensus on who should play the Leonardo DiCaprio character.“
Last time we gave you this photo:
Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag — there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze.
“Of course I really need to take my pants off as well when I do my elephant impersonation,” by Paul Barrett.
Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.