Meet the G-8 - Italy's Silvio Berlusconi

We're starting in a pretty pleasant place... with strong ties to the States... Italy. First the facts. With the United States as comparison. Italy is a Republic, governed by a President and Prime Minister. Fifty- seven million people live there... much smaller than our nearly 300,000,000. The gross domestic product... by purchasing power... is just a little over $25,000, $10,000 less than here.

When it comes to making money, the guy representing Italy knows better than anybody. Anybody in Italy, anyway. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Born in the years leading up to World War Two, Berlusconi started making his fortune building homes, then branched out, big time. According to one article I found, the typical Italian can sit in his Berlusconi- built home, snack on foods purchased at a Berlusconi supermarket, reading a Berlusconi- owned paper while watching a Berlusconi television station broadcast Berlusconi's soccer team's latest game. Did we mention he's rich? Italy's richest man.

He's tight with President George Bush, and backs the action in Iraq. But all is not bright and cheery in Berlusconi- land. Plenty of people, mostly political opponents think he's too rich and owns too much, especially when it comes to Italian media. And if you think questions about President Bush's business dealings raise concerns, check out this article from the BBC. It's representative of the kinds of problems Berlusconi faces at home, so coming to Sea Island to hob knob with other powerful guys is probably a welcome relief, although he doesn't seem like the kind of guy who's losing much sleep over his troubles.