Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen shared a preview of his new series several hours before its debut Sunday night, showing Republican lawmakers advocating for arming kindergarten children and training them to use a variety of weapons.
Baron Cohen inhabits several different characters and disguises in the first episode of the hotly anticipated seven-part series, which is entitled “Who Is America,” and appears to focus on lampooning the American right in the Donald Trump era.
In the teaser, the British, Jewish comedian plays an Israeli, Colonel Erran Morad, and describes himself as the “terrorist terminator.”
Republican lawmakers Dana Rohrabacher of California, Joe Wilson of South Carolina and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi are all duped into supporting training young children to use weapons and arming them.
“I support the kindergarteners program. We in America would be wise to implement it too,” Lott says in the clip. “It’s something we should think about in America, about putting guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens, good guys — whether they be teachers, or whether they actually be talented children, or highly trained preschoolers.”
“Maybe having many young people trained and understand how to defend themselves in their school might actually make us safer here,” Rohrbacher says.
A “three-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a Hello Kitty pencil case at it,” sayd Wilson. “Our founding fathers did not put an age limit on the Second Amendment.”
Former Republican Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh also added his support for the fictitious training program.
“The intensive three-week kindergartner course introduces specially selected children from 12- to 4-years-old, from pistols, to rifles, semi-automatics, and a rudimentary knowledge of mortars,” he sayd. “In less than a month… a first-grader can become a first-grenader.”
Walsh told CNN that Baron Cohen, star of Borat and Da Ali G Show, had capitalized on his support for Israel in order to dupe him.
“They knew I was a big supporter of Israel, and they presented me with this award as one of Israel’s greatest friends,” he said in an interview Sunday. “I found out later the whole thing was a ruse and it was a ruse probably just to get me to say some stupid things.”
“They had me read off a teleprompter some of the innovative products that Israel has invented,” he said. “And then they had me read about this 4-year-old child in Israel who, when a terrorist entered his classroom, somehow grabbed the terrorist’s gun and held the terrorist at bay. I guess that was an example of how Israel trains its preschool kids on how to use firearms and why shouldn’t we do this in America.”
Unlike others who have been duped by Baron Cohen, Walsh laughed the whole thing off.
“He’s a funny guy and what he did to me was funny and I’ll probably end up looking pretty stupid, but that’s OK, I’m a big boy,” he said.
One politician who avoided the trap was Rep. Matt Gaetz from Florida. “You want me to say on television that I support 3- and 4-year-olds with firearms? Is that what you’re asking me to do?” he told the disguised Baron Cohen. “Typically, members of Congress don’t just hear a story about a program and then indicate whether they support it or not.”
Another of the comedian’s latest targets, defeated Senate candidate Roy Moore, threatened a defamation lawsuit over an upcoming episode of the series.
“I did not know Sacha Cohen or that a Showtime TV series was being planned to embarrass, humiliate, and mock not only Israel, but also religious conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Joe Walsh, and Dick Cheney,” Moore wrote on Facebook.
Palin said she sat through what she called a long interview full of “Hollywoodism’s disrespect and sarcasm,” before she walked out.
In a Facebook post last week, she challenged Baron Cohen and Showtime to donate proceeds from the show to a veterans’ charity.
Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is running for US Senate in Arizona, thought he was part of a show focusing on the top 20 most famous people in the United States.
The network has been tight-lipped about the show. Baron Cohen has posted only a cryptic clip of former vice president Dick Cheney being asked to sign a water jug that a man — presumably Baron Cohen — calls his “waterboard kit.”
The Jewish comedian is also set to star as former Israeli Mossad agent Eli Cohen in a Netflix miniseries titled “Spy” sometime later this year.
Baron Cohen’s mother was born in Israel and the actor is fluent in Hebrew, which he has made use of for some of his previous characters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.