Side Note

Sacha Baron Cohen has the best publicists alive: Dumb Republicans

The only bright spot in an already-too-long month of bad news is the promotional cycle around comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s new Showtime series What is America? Instead of billboards and commercials drawing attention to the show, premiering on July 16, a slew of news articles in which GOP politicians admit to having been duped into interviews with the comedian in disguise — often while expressing their disgust, or intent to sue — have functioned as the best possible promotional campaign. Exact details of the show are still under wraps, but a tweet the comedian posted on July 8 suggests that he had been filming the show undercover for a year and somehow got former Vice President Dick Cheney to autograph a “waterboard” kit.

Since then, conservatives Sarah Palin and Joe Walsh have admitted to falling for Cohen’s prank. (According to Palin, Cohen disguised himself as a disabled veteran during their meeting.) Failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore threatened to sue Showtime if his footage is released. Disgraced sheriff Joe Arpaio got snookered, too. Today, GOP congressman Matt Gaetz said he’d been tricked, too. Additionally, an Infowars-type website called Truthbrary.org has been set up in conjunction with the show, and Druge Report’s Matt Drudge tweeted that “Howard Dean, Alberto Gonzales, Bernie, Trent Lott, Patraeus, Ted Koppel, and more” were also interviewed for the program. (Ted Koppel, who is not a dummy, reportedly did not fall for it.

It’s not just that they got pranked, but that the victims have taken such spirited offense to the joke. The demand for a new Sacha Baron Cohen show in 2018 is up for debate, but you know what liberals still love? Anything that gets serial dummies like Moore to spout insane things like “As for Mr. Cohen, whose art is trickery, deception, and dishonesty, Alabama does not respect cowards who exhibit such traits!” Needless to say, all of the mysterious hype around the show has many excited to see how Cohen will embarrass American politicians. We’ll have to wait to see if the program satisfies or not, but either way the rollout is one of the most enjoyable I can remember for a TV show.