ABC’s The View made a “hot topic” July 16 out of Sacha Baron Cohen’s series Who Is America? (This space also did so July 16 online and July 20 in print.)
On that show, which had premiered the night before on Showtime, the comedian posed as an Israeli anti-terrorism expert pitching his “Kinder-Guardians” initiative, which would arm children beginning when they are toddlers to defend themselves against school shooters. American gun proponents and current and former politicians, who were duped into believing they were being interviewed for Israeli television, went along with Cohen’s “Colonel Erran Morad.”
However, Cohen was not the one who wound up in the hot-topic hot seat—Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s Hot Mess) was. He’d just been shown in a brief Who Is America? clip saying, “Maybe having young people trained and understanding how to defend themselves and their school might actually make us safer here.”
That prompted The View’s Meghan McCain to say, “It’s . . . important that Dana Rohrabacher is one of the worst congressmen in office. There are jokes about how close he is to Putin, that Putin actually pays him, so . . . this isn’t the beacon of the Republican Party, obviously. It’s people with really crappy communications staffs, clearly.”
The daughter of Vietnam War hero and former presidential candidate Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) then spoke of the set-up man: “I think Sacha Baron Cohen is a genius; I think he is the Peter Sellers of our time,” she said as the audience began clapping. “I love him. I can’t say that I don’t consume his entertainment. It would be interesting if he could actually get a provocative, pro-gun Republican to actually have a discussion about this. Obviously, arming toddlers is insane.”
The View’s Sunny Hostin conceded that some of Cohen’s targets are “on the fringe, but this guy Rohrback—am I pronouncing his name correctly?”
“Rohrabacher,” McCain interjected.
“He’s a 15-term congressman; he’s a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; he serves on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology; and he was floated as a possible candidate for Secretary of State for Trump,” Hostin continued. With arms waving and her voice rising, she then admitted, “This scares the heck out of me. What does that say?”
McCain was not done: “I reject Congressman Rohrabacher. I mean, I full-heartedly reject him on every level. I don’t want to be associated with anything he has to do with.”
“He’s a Californian, right?” asked Hostin. “Why is he elected to Congress? Why do they keep electing him?”
Host Whoopi Goldberg stuck the landing: “Because sometimes, you know, weird people have done wonderful things . . . and then they lose their minds.”
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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.