Although his popularity is sagging in the polls, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has become an internet sensation after he was caught on tape losing his temper with a man in a crowd at a Paris agricultural fair.
Sarkozy, who was attending an annual farm show over the weekend, was shaking hands with the crowd when he approached one man who refused the president's hand.
The man told Sarkozy: "You dirty me when you touch me."
Still smiling, Sarkozy responded: "Casse-toi alors, pauvre con, va," which roughly translates as: "Then piss off, you pathetic jerk. Go on."
The outburst was caught by a freelance cameraman. More than half a million people have since logged on to the Le Parisien newspaper website after it posted a video of the incident.
Socialist leader and frequent Sarkozy critic François Hollande, speaking Sunday on Canal Plus TV, said Sarkozy was out of line and that it was "intolerable … that the president isn't exemplary."
Sarkozy has engaged in public shouting matches and used tough language from time to time over his political career. While interior minister in 2005, he angered many residents from poor housing projects by calling young delinquents "scum."
The clash comes as Sarkozy's popularity continues to slide. A new poll shows his approval rating at 38 per cent, nearly a 20 per cent drop in six months, prompted in part by rising food and fuel prices.
He has also drawn some criticism over his publicized romance and marriage to former supermodel Carla Bruni.
Sarkozy's fellow conservatives are already concerned that his sinking popularity rating could damage their chances in next month's municipal elections.
I would have said the same thing to the little bugger. Geez.... you try and be nice to a few people and shake their hand and say hi and they in turn be a pr*ck.
Much like the Greenpeace fools.... exactly what did this guy attempt to prove/accomplish by being an *** in front of everybody? He got what was coming if you ask me.