The big question heading into tonight’s third episode of Who Is America? on Showtime: After exposing sitting congressmen as craven gun nuts willing to endorse arming toddlers and forcing the premature resignation of Georgia Republican Jason Spencer, who dropped both his pants and the “n-word,” how on Earth was Sacha Baron Cohen going to top himself this week?
The short answer is that, despite some surreal moments involving a fake quinceañera, nothing in this week’s episode reached the delirious heights of the first two. But the opening segment did give us Baron Cohen’s Israeli ex-Mossad agent Col. Erran Morad sitting down with failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore for a conversation about how to scientifically prove whether or not someone is a “pedophile.”
Baron Cohen met the “respected politician” in February of this year, after he had lost his special election to Sen. Doug Jones. When Moore explained that his home state stands with Israel because it believe in liberty, the host deadpans, “In Alabama, people have always been free, whatever their religion or race or sexuality,” to which Moore replies, “It’s part of our heritage.”
In character as Col. Morad, Baron Cohen presented Moore with an elaborate explanation of a new Israeli technology that can accurately identify sex offenders and “especially pedophiles,” adding, “The phrase ‘sweating like a rapist’ is actually based on science.”
The look on Moore’s face when Baron Cohen pulled out the pedophile-detecting wand and switched it on is priceless.
“Because neither of us are sex offenders,” he explained, it wouldn’t make any noise when he waved it in front of their bodies. But, of course, when he moved it over Moore, it started beeping. “It must be faulty,” he said. “It’s malfunctioning.”
As Moore squirmed in his seat and smiled uncomfortably, Baron Cohen asked, “Is this your jacket? Did you lend the jacket to somebody else?”
Going back into campaign mode, Moore assured the host that he has been married for 33 years and “never had an accusation of such things” (several women accused him of pursuing them when they were young teenagers last fall). “Certainly, I’m not a pedophile,” he added. “Maybe Israeli technology hasn’t developed properly.” With that, he walked out of the interview.
As uncomfortable as Moore seemed in the moment, he displayed nothing like the reprehensible behavior that lost Jason Spencer his seat and could lead to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's defeat in November. And yet Moore had a more negative reaction to the revelation that he had been duped by the comedian than almost anyone else.
In addition to accusing Baron Cohen of “mocking” Israel, Moore said in a statement earlier this month, “I am involved in several court cases presently to defend my honor and character against vicious false political attacks by liberals like Cohen. If Showtime airs a defamatory attack on my character, I may very well be involved in another.”
“As for Mr. Cohen, whose art is trickery, deception, and dishonesty, Alabama does not respect cowards who exhibit such traits!” he added. “It’s been a long time since I fought for my country in Vietnam. I’m ready to defend her again!”