Before he became prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi was a consummate media mogul and manipulator. So why not bring all those talents to bear in the political arena?

Reports surfaced last week that Berlusconi plans to field attractive TV starlets from his Mediaset empire as candidates for the European Union parliament elections in June. Berlusconi’s conservative Freedom Party ticket would include Angela Sozio, a former “Big Brother” contestant; Barbara Matera, a Miss Italy contestant and model; and TV starlets Camilla Ferranti and Eleonora Gaggiolo.

But there’s at least one key opponent to the scheme: Berlusconi’s wife, Veronica Lario. The former actress, who married Berlusconi in 1990, blasted the electoral ploy as “shameless trash.”

“Somebody has written that this is all for the entertainment of the emperor,” Lario said in a statement to Italian news agency ANSA. “I agree.”

“The impudence and shamelessness of power offends the credibility of all (women), damages women in general, and especially those who have struggled to defend their rights,” Lario further lamented.

But while Berlusconi has publicly said there is no reason showgirls should be ruled out from running for Europe’s parliament, he said last week that he regretted his wife “believed what she read in the papers.”

And while a spokesman for Berlusconi’s Freedom Party said the starlets had indeed attended a crash course in politics for European elections, he called their actually being on the ticket an “urban legend.”