"Come in," Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said as I was ushered by an assistant into his study. "I just opened this bottle of wine. Won't you join me for a glass?"
When the controversial Italian leader asked me to see him at his villa for this profile, I was, admittedly, a little overwhelmed. I had only graduated from journalism school six months earlier, and already I would be sitting down with one of the most powerful men in the world. But despite my trepidation, I began asking him about the many scandals dogging his tenure, from alleged mafia ties, to accusations of anti-Semitism, to rumors that he had hired a teenage prostitute.
"No," said Berlusconi, handing me a glass of Lambrusco that, ooh, is actually a really, really pretty red color. "Not now. The evening is so special."
Undaunted, I pressed him about recent remarks in which he deflected allegations of philandering by saying it was "better to be fond of pretty girls than to be gay." He simply smiled at me and…is it hot? I feel hot.
Reacting to his silence, I brought up his vast media empire, and asked whether Italy could truly be called a democracy when its leader controls a majority of the television and news outlets but I don't remember taking my shoes off.
Some have suggested Berlusconi entered politics only to enrich himself and his companies, and he has since become one of the 100 wealthiest men in the world. First elected in 1994, it's really getting spinny in here, wow, Berlusconi has allowed the country to suffer through garbage strikes, garbage strikes and…
This is really strong wine, Mr. Busconi. I haven't finished my glass, and already I'm very light-headed. Light-headed. Whoa, I wonder what my mom's doing right now. This is not, you have big hands, I have questions about the "bunga bunga" parties the prime minister held, the ongoing, there's, please. Let me catch my breath.
Mr. Merlusconi? Where are my shoes?