George W Bush has to apologise because his team produce a background briefing note which says some very rude things about the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi:

[Berlusconi is] “one of the most controversial leaders” of a country “known for governmental corruption and vice”…….. It refers to the Italian prime minister as a man “hated by many but respected by all at least for his bella figura (personal style) and the sheer force of his will”…….. It says Mr Berlusconi was said to be “regarded by many as a political dilettante (amateur) who gained his high office only through use of his considerable influence on the national media”. (from BBC report, Bush sorry over Berlusconi insult)

Apparently the briefing note reproduced in full 4 pages from Gale’s Encyclopedia of World Biography.

The briefing given to White House press corps was lifted, administration officials said, from the Encyclopedia of World Biography, and put in a briefing pack as though it represented the views of the administration. (Guardian)

I guess that the White House would have made several hundred copies of this set of briefing notes and I wonder whether they would have paid any necessary reproduction fees to Gale (part of Cengage).

If the White House press staff have to produce background briefing notes on every rascal that the President might meet they have got a real problem. Perhaps a link to wikipedia would suffice. Mind you the wikipedia entry on Silvio Berlusconi is pretty devastating, though the language is perhaps more neutral. What can an honest briefing note say about Sr Berlusconi? I think the Gale encyclopedist may have the last laugh.