Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has “given new meaning to the phrase ‘pay for play,’” said Elliot Olshansky in the New York Daily News. Patrizia D’Addario, a prostitute who made news last month for saying Berlusconi, 72, paid her $1,400 to attend a party at his official residence, just made news again, alleging that the prime minister offered her a European Parliament seat in lieu of payment for sleeping with him.

D’Addario’s audiotape of their rendezvous is the first “smoking gun” in the string of Berlusconi sex scandals, said Tobias Jones in The Irish Independent. But while in “any normal country” Berlusconi would be politically “dead and buried” after photos surfaced of “orgiastic parties at his Sardinian villa,” along with credible accusations that he slept with an 18-year-old, “Italy is no normal country.” If anything, playing Casanova just adds to his popularity.

Berlusconi’s admittedly “irrefutable” defense—“I’m no saint”—may fly in Italy, said Britain’s The Guardian in an editorial, but other countries—especially in Europe, where Italy is a “major player”—should be “less forgiving” of his “rotten government.” The “real scandal” isn’t sex with call girls, but that Berlusconi—who directly or indirectly controls almost all Italian media—has “suppressed” the story inside Italy.