The wheels appear to have come off French prez Nick Sarko's latest attempt to boost his international standing, after it was revealed he was backed at a motor technology plant speech by the shortest workers the company could rustle up.
Sarkozy, whose modest 5ft 5in frame was shamefully snapped standing on a box to deliver a speech at the D-Day beaches earlier this year, rolled up at the Faurecia facility in Caligny, Normandy, last Thursday.
As part of the visit, le prez addressed workers from atop a specially-constructed podium, supported by management and a group of 20 employees. Innocent enough, until one of the diminuitive white-coated operatives confirmed to an inquisitive hack that she'd been specially selected because she too was a bit lacking in the stature department.
French telly then broadcast the whole shocking espisode, complete with footage of the short-arsed 20 being bussed in from around Faurecia's sprawling facility:
An Élysée Palace spokesman denied vehemently denied that Sarko was attempting to manipulate the media by posing with midgets, and slammed press accusations as "totally absurd and grotesque".
The president's fellow Frenchmen can only hope their vertically-challenged supremo's evident touchiness about his height - exacerbated of late by having to pose for snaps beside the rather rangier Barack Obama - doesn't ultimately lead him along the same path as France's previously most famous short bloke.
We'd advise Austria, Prussia, Russia, Spain, etc, etc, to keep a close eye on developments, just in case. ®