ABC News has come up with video purporting to prove that Barack Obama did not lasciviously check out a woman's ass in Rome yesterday. We undertook a Zapruder treatment and determined that he probably did, but had no choice.

Last night, a photograph emerged showing what appeared to be our president ostentatiously enjoying the rump of a young "junior G8 delegate" during a public event in Rome. It naturally made waves on the Internet, starting with Matt Drudge, since it looked a lot like Obama was enjoying the view. But this morning, ABC News aired video of the same event that seemed to exonerate Obama. We concur, with reservations. Here's our analysis:

The Set-Up
Obama is standing next to a woman (Woman A) on a dais with oversized steps. Woman A is to his right. Over the next several seconds, the pair will execute the following maneuver: Obama will step down, right leg first, to the lower stair in front of him. He will then turn to his right, grasp Woman A's left hand in his right, and steady her as she steps down after him.

The Interloper
At 0.8 seconds into the maneuver (the timestamps here are from ABC News video that was played in slow-motion, and don't reflect that actual amount of time elapsed), a woman with an attreactive rear end (Woman B) begins to execute her own maneuver: She will step up to the level Obama and Woman A are stepping down from, in the process rotating her body in such a way that exposes her ass to Obama's field of vision. In this frame, Obama has completed his step down, but his back is to Woman A. So he begins the process of rotating his body toward her so as to offer her his hand. But—and this is crucial—he begins that rotation with his head. Here, he has begun swiveling it to the right. Also crucial: Woman B was not in Obama's field of vision prior to the initiation of his head-turn—in other words, he could not have begun turning his head to get a better look.


The Turn
At 1.3 seconds, Obama begins bringing his left shoulder around to follow the turn he initiated with his head. At this point Woman B's ass comes into his field of vision. But Obama's head is still in mid-turn—he's bringing it around to see Woman A, whom he intends to help down the stair. Woman A begins preparing for this by moving the item she'd been holding in her left hand—a credential? A program?—to her right hand, freeing up her left for Obama's. This indicates that some sort of communication or coordination, verbal or otherwise, had transpired between the two to indicate to Woman A that Obama intended to help her down the step.

The Kill Shot
This still, at 1.6 seconds, is from the precise moment that the photograph was taken. Obama is looking directly at Woman B's ass. But where else would he look? His head is still rotating, in a downward sweep, to his right. Down, and to the right. Down, and to the right. Woman A has initiated her step down. Obama is continuing his body-turn, led by his head, to line up with her so as to grab her hand. The photograph appears to show Obama craning his neck to check out Woman B's ass, when in fact the moment is a chance alignment of ass and visual field that any man knows as a freebie—he has been presented with a visual prize that he actually can't look away from, since to do so would interrupt the maneuver he's engaged in to help Woman A. So yes, Obama was almost certainly checking out Woman B's ass, but only insofar as it presented itself to him.

The Stop
At 2.4 seconds, Obama's head-turn reaches its apogee and he stays fixed on Woman B's feet as she prepares to step down. He has completed his body-turn. Woman A's ass is still in his field of vision, but he is not looking at it anymore. How do we know?

The Step
Because at 2.9 seconds, as Woman A is in mid-step and obscures Woman B's ass, Obama's head and body are in precisely the same orientation as the previous frame. If he had been following Woman B's ass, he would have moved his head or body to maintain contact with it. But he is clearly fixed on Woman A's feet as she steps.

The Landing
At 3.7 seconds, the maneuver is complete. Obama's head and body maintain precisely the same orientation as the previous two frames, but Woman B's ass is behind him to his right. As ABC News pointed out in the video these stills were taken from, Sarkozy is leaning wildly to check it out. That's what it looks like when someone takes a gander of a lady's ass.