The Bunga Bunga Era is over. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resigned as expected this afternoon, bringing to a close 17 years of his wacky, corrupt, and deeply embarrassing domination of Italian politics. Arrivederci, asshole!
Berlusconi was unquestionably one of the most loathsome people in global politics—a dishonest misogynist, a racist fool, an admirer of fascism whose enduring contribution to the world, besides a crippled Italian economy, a systemically corrupt federal government, and an even-worse global reputation for Italian politics and gender relations, is the word "Bunga," as in "Bunga Bunga," as in "holy shit, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is throwing orgies and calling them 'bunga bunga parties.'" But, as is often the case, the qualities that made him such a horrible leader, politician and human being made him a fantastic character, the kind of man so implausible he can only exist in real life. That he ended up running one of the world's largest economies is unfortunate. Tragic, even. But, oh, the stories!
We wanted to pick out some of our favorite Berlusconi memories to spotlight, but there are maybe too many to choose from—the first time he called Obama "tanned"? The second time he called Obama "tanned"?—and you should really read Ariel Levy's June New Yorker article on Berlusconi and Italy's fucked-up politics, which might be the best epitaph to 17 of Italy's most embarrassing years. It has more than enough old Berlusconi anecdotes to get you through your grief at his loss—not to mention some great new ones, as when she tries to set up an interview with Berlusconi through his press coordinator Marco Ventura:
I asked if I could meet with Berlusconi. Ventura thought for a moment and replied, "Would you consider having plastic surgery first?" It wasn't so that I could look like a velina, he explained; he would feel better about arranging the meeting if I had my face messed up, because then there would be a better chance of the Presidente keeping his hands to himself.