In 2003, long before Donald Trump’s supposed business acumen would be the foundation of his presidential campaign, Ali G, aka Sacha Baron Cohen of Borat fame, brought The Donald on to Da Ali G Show to seek advice on his own big idea: a glove to prevent ice cream from dripping down the wrist of an ice cream eater.
The segment lasts barely a minute, but it’s time enough to anticipate some of the main themes of a Trump campaign. First, there are wrong answers: “What’s the most popular thing in the world?” Ali asks, gunning for ice cream as a lead-in to his sales pitch. “Music,” Donald blandly replies. There’s narcissism (Donald often turns to the camera, as if to check that his hair is secure, or that he could really be taking the heckling of this strangely dressed and accented Jew), and distractedness — “Well, good luck with that,” he says to Ali G, using the same intonation he will use thirteen years later to implore terminally ill people to vote for him.
Given Trump’s penchant for spinning his own questionable ideas into realities — namesake steak, for-profit universities, presidential runs — it’s disappointing that he doesn’t even try to improve on Ali’s. Through sheer silliness, Cohen exposes what we all know by now about The Donald: He can laugh at just about anyone but himself.