At the grand old age of 73 in November, it looks like L'Escroc is finally going gaga. Short of that, what else can explain the extraordinarily inept jibes during a meeting with Schröder and Putin in Kalingrad last Sunday, which have just emerged after being published by the Libération newspaper.
The French president apparently fired a broadside at traditional British cuisine by joking: "The only thing the British have given to European farming is mad cow disease." He added: "You can't trust people who cook as badly as that. Apart from Finland, [Britain] is the country where you eat the worst."
When Putin objected to Chirac's suggestion that British cuisine was the lowest of the low, asking, "What about hamburgers?", L'Escroc replied: "No, no, hamburgers are nothing [by comparison]."
This, of course, is from the country that brought us JCB disease, the French equivalent of BSE, named after the eponymous digger after the habit of quietly burying the carcases of affected cattle while denying that any had been stricken.
Not content with being utterly rude about British cooking, Chirac also attributed France's differences with Nato began after its Scottish former secretary general Lord Robertson offered him a local Scottish speciality, believed to be haggis.
In making these "private" jokes, Chirac seems to have known exactly what he was doing, and they appear to have been intended for a wider audience. French journalists said he knew that microphones were lurking nearby.
The British government, however, has retained a stiff upper lip, a spokesman stating that, "There are some things better not commented on." Perhaps indeed it would have been undiplomatic to remind Chirac that a search on Google for "French military victories" puts this site at number one.
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