Sarkozy digging deeper hole in hunt for culprit
It's a farce straight out of Moliere -- with a few twists even he might have rejected as too far-fetched. What started with vague rumours of marital infidelities involving the French president and his pop star wife has snowballed into a political mess, involving inquiries by the police and intelligence services, the banishment of advisers, the smearing of a former justice minister -- and, of course, dastardly plots by Anglo-Saxon financiers.
Welcome to "Le Chateau", as the Elysee Palace is now known to French satirists. It is home to Nicolas Sarkozy, Carla Bruni and their cadre of highly influential -- and occasionally hysterically ineffectual -- advisers.
The story began with those online rumours, which appeared on Twitter shortly before the regional elections in which Sarkozy and his centre-Right UMP party suffered a drubbing. They claimed that the president's wife was having an affair with a fellow pop singer, while Mr Sarkozy had sought consolation in the arms of a married junior minister (and karate champion).