Berlusconi Under Fire for Obama 'Suntanned' Joke

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2008 5:30 PM CST
Obama is not a stranger to beaches.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Silvio Berlusconi is in a bit of a pickle after calling Barack Obama “handsome, young, and suntanned,” the London Times reports. Political opponents in Italy called on the gaffe-prone prime minister to apologize. “To say that the US president is young, good looking, and suntanned will sound offensive to many, and charged with dangerous ambiguity,” said one.

An unfazed Berlusconi defended his comments as "cute" and called those who misunderstood him “imbeciles.” His statement came at a summit in Russia and was meant to liken Obama to another young leader, Dmitry Medvedev. "A statesman cannot allow himself to make cabaret jokes while abroad,” said the opposition leader in Italy. Another foe warned of “creeping racism.”