Italy's rock star of the year

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MARCO WERMAN: I bet you can't guess who Italy's edition of Rolling Stone magazine picked as rock star of the year. The magazine has just published its choice. And it's Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. The magazine says the 73-year-old media mogul's lifestyle is, quote, �worthy of the greatest rock star." The editor of Italian Rolling Stone is Carlo Antonelli. He's stuck in traffic in Rome, but he's going to take a few minutes to speak with us. How did you and your colleagues come to this decision, Mr. Antonelli?

CARLO ANTONELLI: It was mid-summer. It was in the middle of the big scandal surrounding Prime Minister Berlusconi and his parties in Sardinia, including girls, naked girls, wine, apparently but not proved, drugs, blah-blah-blah, and he really reminds us of the legendary rock n' roll lifestyle of our idol, like I don't know, like Brian Jones or Rod Stewart or Keith Richards of the late '60s. It's clear.

WERMAN: So in case anyone is not up to date with their Berlusconi news, his wife has announced she was divorcing him, the prime minister, after new stories about his alleged relationship with an 18 year old model. It's also been alleged that Berlusconi has hosted dozens of escort girls at his residences in Rome and Sardinia and allegedly he slept with them, although he says he never paid for sex and has admitted he's no saint. These are not very distinguished things for a prime minister, Carlo, but it's not exactly rock n' roll, is it?

ANTONELLI: It's exactly rock n' roll, because rock n' roll is a '50s music genre. It's not a music genre any more, not even rock. Rock is dead since 20 years and even the definition of rock stars, it's been translated from the music world to the finance, to the art world, to the architectural stars, whatever, not musicians.

WERMAN: The magazine cover features an illustration of Berlusconi smiling in front of the Italian tricolore, the flag. In fact, he's ripping a small version of the flag between his hands. Is this to suggest that Berlusconi is destroying Italy?

ANTONELLI: Berlusconi's destroying the culture of authority, the culture of legal authority, that's for sure. When we ask Shepard Farey to design the cover and Shepard is the guy who did that famous Obama "Hope" presidential poster. And Shepard decided to put this clear idea that the prime minister, Italian prime minister, was about to destroy in a way the image and the respect of the country abroad.

WERMAN: So when the editors, you and the writers at Rolling Stone Italy hear about Berlusconi doing yet another kind of crazy thing, are you thinking, "Yeah, right on! What a rock star," or are you kind of disgusted by what he does, embarrassed?

ANTONELLI: No, we're disgusted since ages, and then we have to admit that disgust doesn't change anything here in our country. There is a clear bond between the inner psychic formula of the pure Italian guy and Berlusconi, a desire of freedom and in a way, excess and sex are politics.

WERMAN: Well, we'll leave it there, Carlo. You can get back to deciding who's going to be on the next cover of Rolling Stone there in Italy. Thanks very much for your time.

ANTONELLI: <laughs> Thank you.

WERMAN: Carlo Antonelli there, the editor of Rolling Stone Italy, speaking to us from a traffic jam in Rome.