Sacha Baron Cohen’s newest show Who is America? just released on Showtime has already been making waves with conservative politicians over the last week thanks to revelations that they had been duped by Cohen — who is known for working in disguise and obscuring his identity for comedy.
In the first episode — just aired on Sunday — Cohen poses as an “Israeli journalist,” and interviews several conservative activists including Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League and Larry Pratt, a lobbyist and the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America. Cohen also talked to several prominent politicians like Dana Rohrabacher and pundits like Joe Walsh. He begins the segment by talking to Van Cleave. Cohen makes a vague jab at sugar as the culprit for shootings. Van Cleave agrees. From there, Cohen launches into a promotion of a fake program that arms kids as young as 3 years old with a 3-week-training program in order to ward off armed gunman and “make them go to sleep.”
Somehow, he manages to get Van Cleave to star in an “instructional video for three-year-olds” (his exact words) for the program, which is set against a Blues Clues-style backdrop and features guns that are adorned with stuffed animals called “Gunimals,” in some twisted combination of Hatchimals, Fingerlings, and assault weapons. It’s unimaginable that Van Cleave would be in this video because it flies against all basic training for kids that the NRA promotes. Van Cleave, obviously reading off a teleprompter, says that the training will help these toddlers “stop the naughty men” and “make them go to sleep.” Cohen brings out “Puppy Pistol”; Van Cleave instructs toddlers how to “feed” (load) the gun in its “tummy.” The absolutely bizarre high-satire culminates in an advertisement from Gunimals; Gunny Rabbit; the Uzicorn; the Dino-Gun; and the Rocket-Ship RPG. “The bad guys are going to the moon if they attack your school with a truck full of big scary fireworks,” Van Cleave says. The segment ends with a sing-along. Cleave holds aims Gunny Rabbit at the camera, sings “head, shoulders, not the toes, not the toes” and Cohen shouts, over and over, “FIRE!”
Cohen then takes his “program” and instructional video to Washington, D.C. to see if politicians will endorse the program. There, he meets with Pratt to see if he’ll back the plan to “arm toddlers to protect their pre-schools” and Pratt is pretty into it. “Do you think the liberals are using these school shootings to fill their anti-tragedy agenda?” Cohen asks. “They’re trying,” Pratt answers, seemingly not listening to the words Cohen is actually saying at all.
When Cohen launches into his program — and mentions that certain gifted children would be armed — Pratt enthusiastically says, “That’s great.” He’s not the only one: with the exception of Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, who asks: “You want me to say, on television, that I support three and four-year-olds with firearms? Is that what you’re asking me to do?” Cohen tricks former Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Representative Joe Wilson, and former Representative turned pundit Joe Walsh, who says: “In less than a month, a first grader can become a first gernader,” and says that children should have rudimentary knowledge in mortar.
Cohen knows what he wants to get from these politicians and boy, does he get it: politicians, willing to regurgitate whatever is read to them on a teleprompter, if it somehow advocates for increased access to guns.
That no one at all — not even Larry Pratt — realized they were being duped is unbelievable. Not even when Pratt said (reading off of a teleprompter): “Children under 5 also have elevated levels of the pheromone Blink-182, produced by the part of the liver known as the Rita Ora, this allows nerve reflexes to travel along the Cardi B neural pathway, to the Whiz Khalifa, 40% faster, saving time and saving lives,” did anyone flinch. So, who is America? Apparently, a country led by politicians that are willing to support manufacturing and selling guns to babies under 24 months, hidden in a pink-stuffed bear, with a string at the back to pull the trigger.