Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is today recovering in the polls after a carefully-arranged PR stunt left his face covered in blood, and left Italian newspapers and TV stations covered in publicity for him.
He suffered a few cuts and possibly a broken nose after being struck by a hired heckler, Massimo Farcicalia, but despite the incident being recorded by hundreds of cameras as it happened there were no clear images to show ... what actually happened.
Sr. Berlusconi had hired Farcicalia to shout at him and wave a statue of Madonna in his face, then to punch him while thousands of cameras were either switched off or became blurred, and then the Prime Minister's special effects team got to work to make his face look like The Terminator's, or at least like the face of someone who has survived a 12-hour shelling in the trenches of World War One - something Italians never did.
'Pretty good stunt, huh?', his Forza Facisitica party manager Musso Benylini said, 'we had become desperate. Silvio had been linked with bribes, the Mafia, prostitutes, fascists, in fact just about everything you'd expect from an Italian politician, but now we can all relax - The Hero of Milan has been created, and already light operas are being composed about Silvio 'Tutti Frutti Face' Berlusconi, The Slayer of the Red Dragon'.
But some politicians were not impressed at all by Berlusconi's publicity stunt, especially as it didn't hurt him or stop his closet fascist corrupt policies, and one - who we'll just call 'Mr. Bliar' - said:
'OK, look chaps, I mean, just as I was getting famous again, even if it meant admitting I lied and hence broke the law by telling porkies and have thus made myself open to prosec - anyway, I was just warming my toes on the blaze of new publicity, when that Berlusconi git goes and spoils it all for me!'
'Now nobody will be interested in me lying about wmd's to get Britain to enter an illegal war that has killed thousands of Iraqi civilians - they'll all be talking about Berlusconi and his red face! Sometimes, I have to admit, I want to simply be sincere and not - and I know Barack Obama has this problem - keep pausing, and ... looking grave and, for it now is -'
'Oh, shut up, Tony! I'm trying to get my cases sorted out for tomorrow, ya plonker!' 'Er, OK, Cherie darling, anything you say, darling. (I bet Silvio never has any problems with his wife!) Coming, dear!'
The new Hero of Milan's PR team will have brave interviews tomorrow on Italian TV of him showing what a tough, decent man of the people he is, and not the sleazy, corrupt, fascist, Mafia puppet with a pornography empire that people have been saying he is for years.
Musso Benylini added: 'Let's just hope that fans of decent movies - not Signor Berlusconi, obviously - don't spot this PR stunt using ham actors and cheap makeup. Otherwise he might be ridiculed by all intelligent people across the world.'
Though not even Silvio Berlusconi is as ridiculous as Barack Hussein Obama. Elected by the people who believe Ronald Reagan's own publicity stunt of being shot was genuine.