What he misses: His old buddy. In 2008, Time's Jeff Israely called the Italian president Bush's "Last Best Friend on Earth." A bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but it's true that Berlusconi stuck with Bush when nearly every other European leader (and Italian politician) was scoring cheap political points by attacking him as a reckless cowboy. Berlusconi provided political cover for his American friend by supporting the war in Iraq while most of Western Europe opposed it, but the close relationship between the two leaders seemed to go beyond politics. The conservative Christian from Texas and the lecherous billionaire might seem an odd pair, but Berlusconi was a frequent guest at Bush's ranch in Crawford, and Bush called the Italian leader a "man of sincerity and principle."
Berlusconi committed an early gaffe with Obama, calling the African-American president "young, handsome, and also tanned." There are also reports that U.S.-Italian relations have cooled somewhat and that the Obama administration is irritated by Berlusconi's close relations with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi. The United States also supports expanding the Group of Eight or consolidating its European members, a move that is likely to irritate Italy, which depends on G-8 membership for international legitimacy.