The latest handbags-at-dawn effort from the Prodi-Berlusconi camp was certainly entertaining.
Gleeful trade-offs (ubriaco! utile idiota!) flooded the floor in the second round of a live televised debate between the premier and the wannabe premier, in the run-up to Sunday's elections. Rival Romano Prodi showed how his fast-talking opponent has influenced him, as he momentarily lost himself in grand Macbeth-esque hallucinations. He attacked Berlusconi for clinging on to figures and statistics (no doubt including 'numeri' such as his glorious five year office term so far), with all the skills of a drunkard trying to keep himself propped up.
Berlusconi almost leaped across the table. He eloquently slid the insult ball back into Prodi's court, lacing it with keywords including 'cheery parish face' and 'communists'. His equally suave and indignant 'I am the Prime Minister!' retort however may not prove to be his future saving grace - he is still trailing the leadership polls by five percentage points, and as Prodi would have it, may need to sober up sooner than expected.