Imagine the scene. You're a busy senator for the far-right Alleanza Nazionale party, and you have an important appointment with a TV show on La7, the only independent terrestial channel. You need to get from the Senate to the studios as quickly as possible. However George Bush is inconsiderately visiting Rome, and the whole city centre is shut down: road blocks, marching anti-war protestors, total chaos. You try to take a taxi but to no avail, and - dear gods - are in danger of missing you big TV moment.
Hmm. You think a bit. Being somewhat stricken in years, and having already had heart bypass surgery, a genius notion occurs to you. What means of transport can get through the traffic - and is totally free? An ambulance! Of course!
Gustavo Selva, aged 81, promptly dialled 118 with his 'cardiac crisis' and an ambulance duly arrived, taking him to A & E. On arrival at the hospital he announced that he 'felt a bit better' and asked them to take him to his cardiologist, furnishing them however with the address of the TV studios. Upon meeting with reluctance on the part of the ambulance staff he revealed his status as a Senator, threatened to get them all fired and was 'offensive and threatening, insulting the professionalism of the team,' according to the report compiled by the director of the paramedics' service.
Incredibly, having arrived in time for his TV debate, the former RAI journalist revealed all with the cameras rolling, describing his actions as 'a little journalist's trick.' Er, right.
He has, of course, been greated by an absolute chorus of disapproval from all parties, including members of the CdL (the right-wing coalition of which he forms a part) and has been more or less forced to resign. The regional president, under whose auspices come the 118 Emergency service, is threatening criminal procedings.
For once, unprecedentedly, I find myself in agreement with Roberto Calderoli, the Leghista, who commented: let's just hope that next time Sen. Selva has a heart problem he doesn't find that all the ambulances are too busy ferrying politicians around to their appointments to come and take him to hospital.