Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi – whose government is hanging by a thread amidst widespread dissent as the country struggles with massive debt and a new austerity program that nobody believes will actually be implemented – has made literally hundreds of outrageous remarks, insults and jokes over his three separate terms as the country’s leader.
Here are just some of his most notorious gaffes:
Speaking to the New York Stock Exchange in 2003 about investing in Italy:
Italy is now a great country to invest in... today we have fewer communists and those who are still there deny having been one. Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries... superb girls.
Following the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York:
We must be aware of the superiority of our [Western] civilization, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and -- in contrast with Islamic countries -- respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its value understanding of diversity and tolerance. The West will continue to conquer peoples, even if it means a confrontation with another civilization, Islam, firmly entrenched where it was 1,400 years ago.
Defending Benito Mussolini in a 2003 magazine interview:
“[Mussolini] had been a benign dictator who did not murder opponents but sent them 'on holiday.”
On female Italian politicians, 2008:
“[Right-wing female politicians are] more beautiful [and] the left has no taste, even when it comes to women.”
On Barack Obama’s complexion, 2009:
I'm paler [than Obama], because it's been so long since I went sunbathing. He's more handsome, younger and taller.
On the possibility of having soldiers patrol Italy’s streets to prevent of rape of Italian women, 2009:
We could not field a big enough force [of soldiers] to avoid this risk [of rape]. We would need as many soldiers as beautiful women and I don't think that would be possible, because our women are so beautiful.
On gays, to a Milan crowd in 2010:
Don't read newspapers anymore because they deceive you. I am a man who works hard all day long and if sometimes I use to look at some good-looking girl, it's better to be fond of pretty girls than to be gay.
On Italy, during tapped telephone call, July 2011:
The only thing they can say about me is that I screw around. Now they're spying on me, controlling my phone calls. I don't give a f_ck. In a few months, I'll be leaving this shit country [Italy] that makes me sick.
On denying he ever uses prostitutes, 2009:
I've never paid a woman. I never understood where the satisfaction is when you're missing the pleasure of conquest.
On the earthquake survivors in Abruzzo, 2009:
Of course, their current lodgings are a bit temporary. But they should see it like a weekend of camping.
On the criticism he has endured from press, 2006:
''I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I am a patient victim, I sacrifice myself for everyone.''
On denying he’s a promiscuous playboy, 2006:
”I am pretty often faithful.”
On how to escape poverty, 2003:
Do it my way and earn more money.
On Chinese Communism, 2006:
Read the Black Book of Communism and you will discover that in the China of Mao, they did not eat children, but had them boiled to fertilize the fields.
On his baldness, 2001:
“I have little hair because my brain is so big it pushes the hair out.”
On his short stature, 2008:
“They keep calling me a dwarf, but I'm taller than [Nicolas] Sarkozy and [Vladimir] Putin.''
To Gerhard Schroeder, the former German Chancellor, who had been married four terms:
“Let's talk about football and women...Gerhard, why don't you start?
Advice to women on how to attain financial stability, 2010:
“Look for a wealthy boyfriend. This suggestion is not unrealistic.”
On left-wing Italian voters, 2006:
I trust the intelligence of the Italian people too much to think that there are so many pr_cks around who would vote against their own best interests.
On his work ethic, to a German newspaper:
In Italy I am almost seen as German for my workaholism. Also I am from Milan, the city where people work the hardest. Work, work, work -- I am almost German.
On the Italian media and court system:
Eighty-five per cent of the Italian press is left-wing and among the judges it is even worse... There is a cancer in Italy that we have to treat: the politicization of the magistracy.
On his own skills, talents and leadership:
[I am] the best political leader in Europe and in the world.
There is no one on the world stage [that] can compete with me.
Out of love for Italy, I felt I had to save it from the left.
[I am] the right man in the right job.
I don't need to go into office for the power. I have houses all over the world, stupendous boats... beautiful airplanes, a beautiful wife, a beautiful family... I am making a sacrifice.
An AIDS patient asks his doctor whether the sand treatment prescribed him will do any good. 'No', the doctor replies, 'but you will get accustomed to living under the earth'.
On Finnish food:
Parma is synonymous with good cuisine. The Finns don't even know what prosciutto is. I cannot accept this.
“I've been to Finland and I had to endure the Finnish diet.”
On German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s looks and figure, 2011 (reportedly during taped phone call with reporter):
“[She is] an unf*ckable fat-a_s”
On female political rival Mercedes Bresso’s looks, 2010:
“You know why Bresso is always in a bad mood? Because in the morning, when she gets up, she looks at herself in the mirror to put her makeup on -- and sees herself. And so her day is already ruined.”