Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has again ignited controversy with his new Showtime program, duping some GOP congressmen while earning billboard-sized backlash.
A video teasing the Sunday premiere of “Who Is America?” featured Cohen as an Israeli anti-terror expert touting Kinder-Guardians, a fictional program aimed at arming children under the age of seven.
It seemed clear the goal of the show was to mock conservatives and all but one, Rep. Matt Gaetz appeared to take the bait. As Col. Erran Morad, Cohen spoke with four Republican congressmen, Gun Owners of America’s Executive Director Emeritus Larry Pratt, and President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League Philip Van Cleave – with only Gaetz appearing skeptical.
Naturally, the mock interviews and clips were edited to fit the show’s narrative, but clearly none of the men who supported the counterfeit program were forced to say what they did.
“A 3-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a Hello Kitty pencil case at it,” Rep. Joe Wilson quipped with a straight face. “The Founding Fathers didn’t put an age limit on the Second Amendment.”
Former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, who also fell for the elaborate ruse, spoke out about it later on CNN.
“He’s a funny guy because he gets people to say stupid things,” the syndicated radio host told CNN’s Michael Smerconish. “He gets people to say stupid things because he lies to them.”
Walsh recounted how he was flown out to Washington, D.C. and preseted with a mock award for his support of Israel. He was asked to read a statement from a teleprompter “talking about some of the innovative products that Israel invented” and also about a 4-year-old boy in Israel who supposedly grabbed a gun away from a terrorist and defended his classroom.
“Well, this is kind of crazy, but it is Israel and Israel is strong on defense,” Walsh said he was thinking at the tine. When asked if an “alarm” went off in his head at some point, Walsh admitted it had but “it was too late.”
The former lawmaker took to Twitter as well to comment.
What can I say Bradley? @SachaBaronCohen got me. Do I believe kindergarteners should be armed? Hell no.
But, it’s on me. Sacha fooled me good. Flew me out to DC for some made up friend of Israel award. I gotta live with it. https://t.co/r4juubOG9l
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) July 15, 2018
Rep. Matt Gaetz, however, was not so convinced in his encounter with the comedian’s character, dealing with the awkward interview the way everyone should have – regardless of party affiliation. The Florida Republican met Cohen’s Morad character in his office but never committed to supporting the Kinder-Guardians program or endorsing any statement on camera.
“You want me to say on television that I support 3 and 4-year-olds with firearms? Is that what you’re asking me to do?” Gaetz asked, appearing incredulous at the request.
“Uhh, yes,” the comedian responded.
“Typically members of Congress don’t just hear a story about a program and then indicate whether they support it or not,” Gaetz said.
The clip was immediately followed by a jaw-dropping endorsement from former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott who outrageously called it a plan that “America would be wise to implement.”
“It’s something we should think about in America, about putting guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens, good guys, whether they be teachers or whether they actually be talented children or highly trained preschoolers,” he said in the clip.
“Highly trained preschoolers”?
While Cohen would probably not use the same tactics against the left to humiliate them in the name of comedy, one has to wonder about Republican lawmakers being so ready to get on board a plan to arm toddlers.
Gun rights activist Philip Van Cleave was fully on board, filming a mock infomercial with firearms hidden inside stuffed animals that had kid-friendly names like “Puppy Pistol” and “Uzicorn” in a jaw-dropping skit. The “alarm” Walsh noted must never have gone off in Van Cleave mind.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was also tricked by Cohen in another segment not aired Sunday. Palin slammed the comedian for tricking her into what she thought was a legitimate interview with a disabled veteran.
Cohen got pranked himself thanks to a conservative street artist who took over a billboard across the street from CBS studios in Los Angeles, placing a giant overlay on top of an ad for the Young Sheldon show on CBS.
A street artist took over a Los Angeles billboard early Monday morning by using a crew to place a gigantic overlay on top of a legitimate ad for the ‘Young Sheldon’ show on CBS https://t.co/YYn0vsnwmR
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) July 16, 2018
A fake ad for “Who is America?” was also seen at a bus stop, but also promoted the Wounded Warrior Project.
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