Dick Cheney on “Who Is America?”Showtime
Sacha Baron Cohen’s new Showtime series, “Who Is America?,” caused a stir before its premiere last week, as several Republican politicians felt the need to get ahead of the show in explaining how Cohen “duped” them to appear on it.
The former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the former congressman Joe Walsh, and the former US Senate candidate Roy Moore were among those who preceded the show’s premiere with statements explaining their appearances on the series and criticizing Cohen.
In the show’s first episode, Cohen, disguised as an Israeli “anti-terror expert,” roped several Republican congressmen and former elected officials into voicing their support for a program that would arm toddlers with guns to prevent school shootings.
This week, the former vice president Dick Cheney and broadcast journalist Ted Koppel were among the notable people who appeared on the show as unsuspecting guests.
Before the show’s premiere last week, Matt Drudge of The Drudge Report tweeted a list of political and media figures he said Cohen had “finked” for the series, including Palin, Howard Dean, and David Patreus, whom we can expect to see in the show’s subsequent five episodes.
Here are the notable people and politicians who have appeared on “Who Is America?” so far:
Sen. Bernie Sanders
The show’s first episode began with Cohen interviewing Sanders, the Vermont senator who was a Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, as a right-wing conspiracy theorist character named Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr.
Sanders, with a perplexed expression, politely dodged and shut down various absurd questions on income inequality and other topics from Cohen’s Ruddick.
Larry Pratt, executive director emeritus of Gun Owners of America
In the strongest segment on Sunday’s episode, Cohen’s Israeli “anti-terror expert” character, Col. Erran Morad, introduced Pratt and several other conservative political figures to a fake program called “Kinderguardians” that would arm children as young as 3.
Pratt endorsed the program and, reading off a teleprompter, said: “Toddlers are pure, uncorrupted by fake news or homosexuality. They don’t care if it’s politically correct to shoot a mentally deranged gunman. They’ll just do it.”
Florida congressman Matt Gaetz
Cohen’s Morad character interviewed Gaetz for the segment on arming toddlers, but Gaetz wisely sidestepped the topic, saying, “Typically members of Congress don’t just hear a story about a program and then indicate whether they support it or not.”
Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott
In a montage of endorsements from conservative politicians, Lott, a former Mississippi senator and Republican Senate majority leader, advocated Cohen’s fake program for arming children.
“I support the Kinderguardian program,” Lott said on Sunday’s episode, adding that the US should consider arming “talented children or highly trained preschoolers.”
California congressman Dana Rohrabacher
Rohrabacher said in the same segment that training schoolchildren how to shoot a gun “might actually make us safer.”
South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson
Wilson also chimed in on the “Kinderguardians” segment.
“A 3-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a Hello Kitty pencil case at it,” Wilson said, adding: “Our Founding Fathers do not put an age limit on the Second Amendment.”
Former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh
Walsh, now a conservative radio host, also voiced his support for arming children.
“The intensive three-week Kinderguardian course introduces specially selected children from 12 to 4 years old to pistols, rifles, semiautomatics, and a rudimentary knowledge of mortars,” Walsh said in the episode. “In less than a month — less than a month — a first-grader can become a first-grenade-er. Happy shooting, kids.”
In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Walsh elaborated on a series of tweets he wrote last week by explaining how Cohen “duped” him into appearing on the show by offering him “an award from some Israeli TV station because I’m a great supporter of Israel.”
Georgia state representative Jason Spencer
Cohen’s Morad character roped Spencer into participating in an “anti-terrorist” training video.
In the segment, the fourth-term representative shouts the n-word repeatedly and does a racist impression of a Chinese person.
“All you damn sand-n—– over in the Middle East, we are tired of you coming to America and we are tired of you trying to threaten us,” Spencer says in a post-credit scene, facing the camera. “We will cut off your dick, you understand? We will take your dick and we will shove it in your mouth.”
Spencer told The New York Times that he believed the training video was real and meant for “elected officials who may be targeted by terrorists,” and said he has “sought legal counsel” regarding his appearance.
Former “Bachelor” contestant Corrine Olympios
Olympios appeared in a fake photoshoot with Cohen as an Italian photographer character, who pressured her into lying at length about helping fight the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and saving 6,000 Africans.
“He played this crazy Italian man. He was screaming in a cheesy Italian accent the whole time, I was like, what’s this dude’s problem?” Olympios said in a new interview with The Daily Beast.
Broadcast journalist Ted Koppel
Cohen interviewed Koppel as the right-wing conspiracy character Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr. while spewing comical alternative facts about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd.
Koppel described his experience of appearing on the show in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter before the show’s premiere last week.
Former vice president Dick Cheney
Cohen’s Morad character asked Cheney in an interview about his “favorite war” and the torture practices (“enhanced interrogation,” as Cheney labeled it) of the Bush administration.
Cheney signed a “waterboard kit” from Cohen at the end of the segment, and it sold on eBay following the episode.