My admiration for King Juan Carlos knows no bounds. His compassion and dignity compared with the bunch of stiffs who head the British crown has been recorded here already.
This weekend though his stock rose hugely in my estimation when he told Hugo Chavez 'Why don't you shut up?' when the pompous and autocratic populist leader of Venezuela continually interrupted Spain's PM José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, at the Iberamerican council meeting. You can't imagine Queen Elizabeth doing that.
The vile Chavez compared Zapatero's predecessor Jose Maria Aznar to a snake and described him as a fascist. Zapatero politely pointed out that he had been elected twice by the Spanish people.
He might have added that Aznar never mounted a coup d'etat, refused to renew the licence of the nation's most popular television station or called for an end to presidential term limits, all of which Chavez has done. He might also have pointed out, as La Vanguardia did today, that Chavez once regarded Aznar as a buddy and rolled out the red carpet for him when he visited Caracas in 2000.
The left adore Chavez because he stands up to 'the man' i.e the great Satan of the United States and is in some way 'right on' even when he speaks for seven hours at a time outlining his tedious philosophies. But you start with Chavez and you end up with Robert Mugabe, usurping and clinging on to power no matter the consequences for your country.