PERSPECTIVErnShame and Sciencernby Thomas FlemingrnAsex tour of Italy was the last thing I had on my mind whenrnI decided to take two children along with me on a recentrnlecture tour, but each trip I take seems to construct itself thematicallyrnlike an overwritten modern novel in which everyrnscene reeks of symbolic significance. This time the reek was ofrnKrizia perfume, and the symbol was the Green Party billboardrnsporting a frontal nude (all parts included) of the leader’s wife.rnHer message was a bit of not-too-coy innuendo: “This is thernonly fur I abuse.”rnthis is not the first nude billboard 1 have ever seen, and thernother nudes had always been someone’s wife daughter sisterrnmother; and it was not the first time that a politician had sexuallyrnexploited his wife to gain advancement: as a boy Lord Melbournernwas told by one of his schoolfellows, “Your mother’s arnwhore,” which she was. But Melbourne’s father did not lead hisrnwife through the streets of London offering to sell a peep to anyrncitizen who had the franchise. It is the casualness, or rather thernshamelessness of sexual advertising throughout Europe, that isrnso disconcerting.rnThere is nothing but sex on European television. 1 am notrnthinking primarily of the swinish German programs available inrnhotels all over Europe, but of the standard game shows and varietyrnprogramming where the object is to pack as many womenrnand as little clothing as possible into a space that can fill up arnscreen. The hottest program in March was La Zingara, a gamernshow^ with half-dressed dancing gids bopping in and out amongrnthe contestants as if there were nothing unusual. At one point,rncontestants were required to bowl down one of a set of largernpins which were inevitably representations of the same dancingrngirls. This was on RAI. Switch to a commercial channel, andrnthe girls are younger and their covering less discreet.rnSilvio Beriusconi, the ex-socialist plutocrat who is the lastrnhope of the Italian right, helped to pioneer adolescent soft pornrnon Italian television. Most of his supporters, including rightwingrnCatholics, fail to see the irony, and they think Americansrnare puritanical in their obsession with the sex lives of their politicalrnleaders. Bill Clinton is abused for his indiscretions with arnseries of boopsies, while Frangois Mitterrand not only had girlfriends,rnbut also a long-established mistress who showed up atrnhis funeral. Many American leaders, it is true, have acted likernEuropeans—Franklin Roosevelt, General Eisenhower, JackrnKennedy, Lyndon Johnson all had their flings, and more thanrnone credible allegation has been made against George Bush—rnbut all of these men took some pains to hide their follies andrnknew they could rely, for the most part, on the silent complicityrnof the press. Mr. Clinton, however, has been even less discreetrnthan the French and Italian leaders who like to be photographedrndancing with mistresses half their age. According tornsome reports, at least, our President behaves less like a Europeanrnstatesman than like a rutting Arkansas razorback runningrnamok in a sty full of young sows.rnIt is not easy to compare the sexual mores of Europe andrnAmerica, if only because both places are so diverse. Nabokov’srnLolita was described as an allegory both of the Old Worldrn8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn