US lawmakers taken in by Sacha Baron Cohen
In Sacha Baron Cohen's provocative new comedy show, American politicians are filmed backing a fictitious program to teach kindergartners how to use guns to defend themselves in school shootings.
In a seven-episode series launching on cable channel Showtime on Sunday, the British prankster takes on four different personas as he satirises the political and cultural life of the United States in the era of President Donald Trump.
In the first episode of Who is America?, previewed for media by Showtime, Baron Cohen poses as an Israeli anti-terror expert who gets two US congressmen to voice support for his fake "Kinderguardians" scheme for children as young as three.
The scheme includes a fake instructional video featuring children's songs and "gunimals" - weapons adorned with soft toys - that would purportedly help kids confront the school shootings that have plagued the US for the past decade.
Republican congressmen Dana Rohrabacher of California and Joe Wilson of South Carolina, along with former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, who is now a lobbyist at a Washington law firm, are shown enthusiastically backing the idea, alongside gun rights advocates and a former congressman-turned-talk radio host, Joe Walsh.
Rohrabacher, Wilson and Lott did not immediately reply to requests for comment late on Saturday.
Walsh told CNN on Saturday that he was tricked into reading the words off a teleprompter.
"I'll probably laugh at myself" when the episode airs, Walsh told CNN, adding that he is a fan of Baron Cohen. "He's a funny guy because he gets people to say stupid things."
The show marks Baron Cohen's first television project in a decade after he launched his comedy career as subversive white English rapper Ali G., whose interviewees included Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich.
His 2006 faux documentary film Borat ridiculed Kazakhstan and Middle Americans.
In Who is America?, Baron Cohen also takes aim at the media and political correctness, with the comedian posing as a pony-tailed liberal radio reporter on a post-2016 election cycling tour, and a man in a disability scooter who purports to investigate fake news.
© RAW 2018 Image credit: Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File