For Journalists, Michelle Obama's G-8 Hostess Has the Mostest
Even though Michelle Obama is keeping a relatively low profile during her trip to Italy this week, her official escort is making quite a media splash as a mini-soap opera unfolds around the first ladies of the Group of Eight.
Mrs. Obama and other wives of the G-8 leaders are being led around by Mara Carfagna, the head-turning former topless model-turned-Italian government official.
Carfagna, who holds the title of equal opportunities minister, is helping to fill the role that traditionally would be played by Italy's first lady, Veronica Lario. But Lario has filed for divorce from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, accusing him of philandering, and is boycotting the G-8 summit.
So Carfagna, 33, was tapped by Berlusconi to play hostess, a choice that, in spite of the former pin-up girl's new professional-looking bob haircut and appropriately prim attire, is overshadowing coverage of the visiting first ladies.
"Silvio Berlusconi picks former topless model Mara Carfagna as G8 escort," blared this week's headline in Britain's Daily Telegraph. The paper wrote that Carfagna is an "ex-glamour girl whose sultry looks and portfolio of lingerie calendars earned her the title of the world's sexiest government minister from men's magazine Maxim."
The Guardian chimed in with this headline: "Silvio Berlusconi makes playboy's G8." The paper also notes that Berlusconi personally chose "the 33-year-old former topless model who is now minister for equal opportunities" to fill his angry wife's hostess duties.
"Total hottie," declared the Huffington Post.
Furthermore, the Guardian and other news organizations have reported that French first lady Carla Bruni, the Italian-born wife of Nicolas Sarkozy, has been waging a semi-boycott of the G-8 to register her disapproval of Berlusconi's behavior with other women and teenage girls.
"Bruni is also keen to avoid a potentially embarrassing meeting with Mara Carfagna," the Guardian points out.
Mrs. Obama, too, has seemingly tried to avoid photo opportunities with Carfagna, as you can see in this photo gallery on Huffington Post.
But the cameras did manage to snap at least one shot of the American first lady in the same frame as Carfagna. That one, shown above, has Michelle Obama standing next to her Swedish counterpart, Filippa Reinfeldt, with Carfagna on the other side of Reinfeldt.
Carfagna's image today is a far cry from her former photo opportunities, in which she posed with dyed, punk-style hair, a nose ring and chains, and wearing see-through lacy lingerie.
The White House, quite naturally, had no comment on the drama involving Carfagna as a stand-in for Lario.
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