The promotional tour for Sacha Baron Cohen’s new Showtime series Who Is America? continues. But it’s not the British comedian out there shilling for his new show all over TV—it’s the people who fell victim to his pranks.
After Sarah Palin appeared on Good Morning America yesterday to whine about her “really embarrassing, humiliating interview” with a man she believed to be a “disabled” veteran spouting right-wing conspiracies from his wheelchair, another former Tea Party darling went on CNN Saturday morning to explain how he got duped as well.
Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), who rode the Tea Party wave to Congress in 2010 only to be voted out two years later (and now considers himself among the #NeverTrump crowd despite tweeting before the 2016 election, “if Trump loses, I’m grabbing my musket”) told CNN’s Michael Smerconish that he decided to tweet out details of his run-in with Baron Cohen after hearing Palin’s story.
Like accused sexual predator Roy Moore, who threatened to sue Baron Cohen this week, Walsh was invited to receive an award in Washington, D.C., for being a friend to Israel and while he was there sat for an interview in which a documentary crew asked him to endorse various Israeli innovations—including the idea of arming four-year-olds to defend themselves against terrorists.
“He’s a funny guy because he gets people to say stupid things,” Walsh, who counts himself as a Borat fan, said of Baron Cohen on Saturday. “He gets people to say stupid things because he lies to them.” But that still does not entirely explain how he ended up saying what he says he did while cameras were rolling.
They had Walsh read off a teleprompter about a four-year-old child in Israel who, “when a terrorist entered his classroom, somehow he grabbed the terrorist’s gun and held the terrorist at bay,” he said, adding, “And that was an example of how Israel trains and arms preschool kids on how to use firearms, and boy shouldn’t we do that in America?”
As he read those words off of the teleprompter, Walsh thought to himself, “Well, this is kind of crazy, but it is Israel and Israel is strong on defense.” Smerconish could not hold back his laughter as Walsh was describing the scene.
“Did an alarm go off in your head, congressman?” Smerconish asked, incredulously.
“It did,” he said, “but it was too late.” He had apparently already endorsed guns for preschoolers on camera.
Without having seen the segment that Baron Cohen filmed with Palin, both Smerconish and Walsh agreed that he “crossed a line” by posing as a disabled vet, a charge he has denied (albeit in character).
“He’s a funny guy and what he did to me was funny and I’ll probably end up looking pretty stupid,” Walsh added. “But that’s OK, I’m a big boy. But you impersonate a disabled veteran? He did cross a line.”
Walsh ended the interview by admitting, “I’ll probably laugh at myself” when the episode airs, before Smerconish mangled one of Borat’s catchphrases, “Jagshemash,” which means “Hello, how are you?” in Polish.