Dana Rohrabacher Turns Up in Sacha Baron Cohen Send-up on Arming Toddlers

A coastal Orange County congressman gets his closeup on Showtime’s Who Is America?

UPDATE NO. 3, JULY 17, 10:48 A.M.: Harley Rouda, the Laguna Beach Democrat attempting to defeat Representative Dana Rohrabacher in November, issued a statement this morning concerning the 48th congressional district incumbent’s appearance on Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who Is America?:

HARLEY ROUDA RESPONDS TO ROHRABACHER’S PUSH TO ARM CHILDREN

NEWPORT BEACH, CA — Today, Harley Rouda – Democratic Candidate for Congress in California’s 48th District – released the following statement in light of footage from the Showtime Network where Rep. Dana Rohrabacher advocates for arming kindergartners with weapons.

“Arming children in response to an epidemic of gun violence sounds like a good idea to Dana Rohrabacher, which can only mean one thing: Dana Rohrabacher is completely out of good ideas.

“Instead of radical, deeply disturbing proposals that make our children less safe, families across the U.S. and in California’s 48th district deserve a Congressmember who will fight tirelessly to see that Capitol Hill finally does something to protect our communities by passing common sense gun safety reforms.

“Dana can try to walk back his comments or call them fake news, but that’s just a sad, cynical move straight out of the tired, politics-as-usual playbook. I am fighting to protect children from gun violence, not put them in the cross-hairs. That’s why I’m running for Congress.”

UPDATE NO. 2, JULY 17, 10:41 A.M.: Dana Rohrabacher issued a statement Monday about his appearance on Sacha Baron Cohen’s “bogus” Who Is America?:

Rep. Rohrabacher’s Statement On Bogus Showtime Interview
Jul 16, 2018

WASHINGTON – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher on Monday responded to false news presented in a segment of Sacha Baron Cohen’s new Showtime television show in which he purported to show the congressman endorsing a fictional Israeli program to teach kindergarteners how to use guns. This is his statement:

Cohen’s people apparently used footage from an interview I submitted to earlier this year for a bogus Israeli television company supposedly celebrating the country’s 70th anniversary. In that interview, which was not with Cohen, I spoke broadly of training young people at a responsible age in self-defense. At no time did I endorse training toddlers in handling guns. Nor was the idea even presented to me directly. If it had been, I would have rejected it. In school shootings, the standard response is “Run, hide, fight,” in that order. My response was perfectly consistent with that. I love good satire, but good satire must reveal some basis in truth. This was fraud, a sick fraud at that, and its intention was to deceive the American people for political purposes.

Illustration by Bob Aul

UPDATE NO. 1, JULY 16, 3:17 P.M.: This just in, from the SoCal Healthcare Coalition:

OC STUDENTS & PARENTS TO CONDEMN REP. DANA ROHRABACHER’S SUPPORT FOR ARMING THREE YEAR OLDS

HUNTINGTON BEACH — Orange County students and parents will on TUESDAY, JULY 17 AT 11 AM condemn Congressman Dana Rohrabacher for backing a program that would train and arm children as young as three years old to engage with school shooters.

Rohrabacher has an A rating from the NRA and a zero percent rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He has taken at least $50,000 from pro-gun lobbyists.

The “Kinderguardians” initiative was proposed to Rohrabacher as real, although it was a part of Showtime’s Who Is America?, which premiered Sunday and is a project of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who is famous for going undercover and proposing extreme scenarios to politicians and other notable figures.

Rohrabacher comments on the program at about 8:45 into the video link here. (It is worth watching the entire video to see how extreme it is, including “Gunimals,” which combine firearms and stuffed animals to make shooting simple and fun for small children.)

“Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is supposed to be on our side, but it’s safe to say that arming three year olds as the solution to school violence is not at the top of our agenda here in Orange County,” said Zane Rice, an organizer of Tuesday’s event. “Congressman Rohrabacher wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, drill for more oil off the Orange County coast and now, he wants toddlers to tote guns. Whose side is he on?”

WHEN:
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
11:00 a.m.

WHERE:
In the heart of Dana Rohrabacher’s Congressional District:
Pier Plaza
401 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

WHO:
Orange County students, children and parents outraged by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s extreme positions on guns.

ORIGINAL POST, JULY 16, 2:07 P.M.: Harley Rouda, the Democrat seeking the 48th congressional district seat this November, had better keep his radar up for conservative provocateur James O’Keefe and his hidden cameras.

That is because universal provocateur Sacha Baron Cohen and his un-hidden cameras recently stung Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s Sizzle Reel), a 30-year member of Congress seeking to hold onto the 48th seat in the same election.

The latest project from the mind and made-up face behind Ali G, Borat and Brüno Gehard is Who Is America?, which debuted Sunday night on the Showtime cable network.

Early that same morning, Showtime teased the new series by posting a 10-minute clip on YouTube that showed Cohen made up as Israeli anti-terrorism expert Colonel Erran Morad.

Morad proclaims the solution to school shootings in America is his initiative “Kinder-Guardians,” which would start arming children as toddlers so they may defend themselves.

That may sound ridiculous to you but, based on the Who Is America? premiere, “Kinder-Guardians” makes perfect sense to Larry Pratt, executive director emeritus of Gun Owners of America, who reads for Morad/Cohen a script that cites “science” as proving that young children process images faster than adults, thanks to “elevated levels of the pheromone blink-182, produced by a part of the liver known as the Rita Ora.”

Philip Van Cleave, with Sacha Baron Cohen posing as Colonel Erran Morad at his side, tape a P.A.

Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, also takes the Kinder-Guardians bait, although he does caution that children “haven’t quite developed what we call ‘conscience,’ where you feel guilty about doing something wrong . . . If they haven’t developed that yet, they can be very effective soldiers.”

He is later shown in phony public service announcement going over with Morad the “Puppy Pistol,” a gun stuffed inside a plushy toy, and instructing kids through song to, “Aim at the head, shoulders, not the toes” while Morad yells “Fire!”

Former Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) and ex-Republican congressman out of Illinois Joe Walsh also appear on camera to sing the praises of Kinder-Guardians. Current Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) does not take the bait, at least based on his Who Is America? screen time, but Representative Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) does.

At the 8-minute and 44-second mark of the promotional teaser on YouTube, you can watch and hear Rohrabacher say into the camera, “Maybe having young people learn how to train and defend their schools might actually make us safer here.”

On Monday morning, after national reporters revealed the conservative gun advocates had been had by Cohen, Rohrabacher had no comment.

Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, Ted Koppel and Ray Moore are among the duped notables set to appear in future episodes of Who Is America? 

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.