And you think American politics is wacky?

Sure, we have some entertaining politicians and bizarre scandals here in America. Two words: Rod Blagojevich.

But anything that has happened in American politics in the last decade pales in comparison to the soap opera/sex scandal/government crisis happening in Italy right now.

A Milan judge has ruled that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi must stand trial for having sex with an underage prostitute and trying to cover up the matter.

This guy makes Bill Clinton look like a monk. The New York Times:

The judge's ruling came weeks after prosecutors said they were investigating the prime minister on charges that he paid Karima El Mahroug, a nightclub dancer nicknamed Ruby Heart-Stealer, for sex before she turned 18 and abused his office in calling the police to intervene when she was detained in May for theft.

Mr. Berlusconi has said he called the police to avoid "an international diplomatic incident" because he had been told that the Moroccan-born Ms. Mahroug was the niece of Hosni Mubarak, then the president of Egypt.

The age of consent is 14 in Italy and prostitution is legal, but not with someone under the age of 18.

Both Mr. Berlusconi and Ms. Mahroug say they did not have sex, although Ms. Mahroug said the prime minister gave her 7,000 Euros the first time she came to his villa for a party last spring. In a television interview last month she said she had made up "a parallel life," telling people she was Egyptian, not Moroccan, although she did not reveal whether she had ever claimed to be Mr. Mubarak's niece.

The trial would not be Mr. Berlusconi's first. Over the years he has emerged largely unscathed from a dizzying list of legal troubles, including charges of corruption, tax evasion and bribing judges. In each case he was either acquitted on appeal or the statute of limitations ran out.

Italian feminists are naturally up in arms.

On Sunday thousands took to the streets in Italian cities and worldwide in coordinated demonstrations that organizers said were aimed at restoring the dignity of Italian women amid the latest sex scandal and after years in which Mr. Berlusconi has routinely appointed television showgirls to political office. 

No misogyny there. And how about Berlusconi's lawyer's take?

Noting that Mr. Berlusconi would be tried before a panel of three women judges, he said: "Great. Women are always appreciated, sometimes even agreeable," the center-left daily La Repubblica reported. 

Makes me wish I understood Italian so I could follow every twist and turn being reported in the Italian media.

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