Since the announcement of Sacha Baron Cohen’s new Showtime series, “Who Is America?” several politicians, including Sarah Palin and Joe Walsh, have said that they were tricked into talking on-camera with the actor’s many aliases. They aren’t alone, as many other public figures have been deceived by Baron Cohen into appearing in (sometimes unflattering, but always uncomfortable) onscreen moments.
1. Donald Trump In 2003, when Trump was still an entrepreneur and not yet in the White House, Baron Cohen, posing as British rapper Ali G, approached him with an interesting business proposal: gloves that keep your hands warm while eating ice cream. Trump later claimed that he was the only person to have “immediately” walked out of an Ali G interview.
2. Newt Gingrich Amid talks of welfare reform and the possibility of a female president, the most entertaining moment of Ali G’s interview with former speaker of the House was Ali G repeatedly asking Gingrich how to pronounce his name.
3. Pat Buchanan Conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan seemed to go along with Baron Cohen’s ruse as his character mixes up WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) with BLTs when talking about Iraq.
4. Christine Todd Whitman Whitman, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency and governor of New Jersey, endured questions from Ali G about the size and ecological consequences of whale feces.
5. James Baker Ali G probed the former secretary of state about the danger of Iraq and Iran having such similar names. “Ain’t there a real danger, that someone give like a message over the radio to one of them fighter pilots, where one of them says ‘Bomb Iraq,’ and the geezer don’t hear it properly and bombs Iran instead of Iraq?” he asked, to which Baker responded, “No danger.”
6. Neil Hamilton “Totally disgraced” member of parliament Neil Hamilton shared what appeared to be a joint with Ali G onstage. This was met with the character’s approval.
7. Ralph Nader The former Green Party presidential candidate engaged in a discussion with Ali G about the dangers of living in the jungle and how to rig electricity meters.
8. Gail Porter Ali G serenaded television star Gail Porter with “Every Breath You Take” by The Police while holding her hand in an extended, uncomfortable moment.
9. Dick Thornburgh The former attorney general was asked by Ali G just “how hung” the members of a hung jury are.
10. Boutros Boutros-Ghali “I am Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Put down your gun and listen to Bob Marley,” said the late former UN secretary general as he closed out the interview.
11. Brent Scowcroft The former U.S. national security advisor corrected Ali G when he asked if they caught the people who sent Tampax through the mail. “It was anthrax,” Scowcroft answered.
12. James Lipton Lipton, the host of “Inside the Actors Studio,” carefully rebuked Ali G’s use of the word “hoe” during his interview. ”I don’t use words like ‘hoes’ and I hate them,” Lipton said after a long pause.
13. Buzz Aldrin “Do you think man will ever walk on the sun?” asked Ali G in his interview with the astronaut.
14. Sam Donaldson The interview with the “boss man of ABC news,” Sam Donaldson, seemed to start out innocently, with Ali G inquiring about how the media affects politics. However, the conversation quickly took a turn as the rapper conflated Watergate, the film “Waterworld,” and the television series “Stargate.”
15. Porter Wagoner Baron Cohen’s Kazakh character, Borat, asked the country singer for help in writing a country song about his sister, “the number two or three prostitute in the country of Kazakhstan.” She is referenced again in his later film, “Borat.”
16. John Naber Olympic medalist John Naber indulged Ali G by rapping along to his beatboxing.
17. Gore Vidal Late historian and author Gore Vidal remained polite when Ali G confused him with hairstylist Vidal Sassoon.
18-29. NBA Players (Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Ben Wallace, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Robert Horry, Richard Jefferson, Dwayne Wade, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Reggie Miller, Steve Kerr) Highlights from this interview montage included when Ali G asked Kobe Bryant if the weather really is different “up there” and Shaquille O’Neal gently patting Ali on the knee while he explained to him what “NBA” stands for.
30. Noam Chomsky Ali G confused Chomsky when he asked if bilingual people were attracted to both men and women, referring instead to bisexuality.
31. Andy Rooney The “60 Minutes” pundit schooled Ali G in grammar during their interview, grumpily correcting “does you think” to “do you think” and “racialism” to “racism,” and refused to let a single error go.
32. Edwin Meese Like many other Ali G guests, former Attorney General Edwin Meese ended his interview with a rap: “I was attorney general, my name is Meese. I say go to college, don’t carry a piece.”
33. Thomas J. Pickard Former acting FBI Director Thomas J. Pickard was roped into a discussion about Area 51, which included Ali G singing “The X-Files” theme song and talking about being probed by aliens.
34. Marlin Fitzwater In a cringe-worthy moment, Ali G asked the former White House press secretary if being a secretary is embarrassing, and compared it to being a male nurse.
35. Kent Hovind Ali G countered Young Earth spokesperson Kent Hovind’s argument for creationism by asking him if he ate bananas, to which he said yes. Ali used his response to prove that humans are related to monkeys, smugly (kind of) debunking his argument.
36. Sally Jessy Raphael In the episode that featured Sally Jessy Raphael, Ali G crashed the talk show host’s live taping of her television program, “Sally,” and riled up the audience before she entered.
37. Naomi Wolf Any conversation involving Ali G and feminism is bound to be bad news. Author Naomi Wolf grew noticeably frustrated with the character’s misogynistic ways — “Gee, I’m speechless,” she said after Ali explained at length how he uses the word “bitch” as an endearing term for his girlfriend.
38. Dr. C. Everett Koop Former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop was forced to explain to Ali G that the “dong bone” is in fact, not a bone.
39. Stansfield Turner In this interview, Ali G spoke with former CIA Director Stansfield Turner in a library and wore a jersey emblazoned with the words “Big Willie” on the front. He inquired about conspiracy theories and whether or not we can truly be sure “Louis Armstrong” landed on the moon.
40-41. David and Victoria Beckham Although Ali G’s interview with the Beckhams was done for Comic Relief, it was just as uncomfortable as usual. “How many of the Spice Girls turned you down before you went for Posh?” he asked the soccer star, who was red in the face and nearly unable to respond.
42-43. Chip Pickering and James W. Smith Jr. Former Mississippi Rep. Chip Pickering and former Mississippi Supreme Court Judge James W. Smith Jr. made a brief cameo in “Borat,” as the former addressed the congregation at his Pentecostal church, where he espoused his views against the theory of evolution.
44. Alan Keyes It took the anti-Semitic Borat to hand Keyes a “rib of a Jew” for the conservative activist and pundit to rip off his mic and storm out of the interview.
45. Bob Barr Who could ever forget Rep. Bob Barr’s uncomfortable swallow when Borat gave him a gift of cheese made from his wife’s breast milk.
46. Ron Paul The former Texas representative and presidential candidate is tricked into a hotel room “interview” with Baron Cohen’s fashionable Austrian character, Bruno, who promptly put on music and disrobes, to reveal a tight pair of shiny, purple briefs.
47. Paula Abdul The singer clearly had no idea what she was getting into. Her interview with Bruno involved talking about her humanitarian work while sitting on “human chairs” — “gardeners” crouched on all fours. She left before having the chance to eat sushi off of a nude man.
48. Ryan Seacrest Though more of a stunt than an act of trickery, Baron Cohen attended the 2012 Oscars red carpet in his character from “The Dictator,” Gen. Aladeen. He “accidentally” spilled the supposed ashes of Kim Jong Il on Seacrest during a short interview, before being led away by security
49. Sarah Palin The former governor of Alaska was one of the first notable figures to admit to being fooled by Baron Cohen on “Who Is America?” She ripped the actor, who posed as “wounded veteran” Billy Wayne Ruddick, Jr., Ph.D., calling his humor “evil, exploitative, sick.” Showtime later released a statement that refuted her claim that Baron Cohen pretended to be a wounded veteran, and that his character used a mobility scooter to “conserve his energy.”
50. Joe Walsh The former congressman and media personality corroborated Palin’s claims and stated that Baron Cohen had duped him by inviting him to “pro-Israel dinner” and filmed an interview with him for Israel’s 70th birthday celebration.
51. Dick Cheney In a clip promoting “Who is America?” former Vice President Dick Cheney is seen signing a “waterboarding kit,” which was a plastic jug of water. “That’s the first time I’ve ever signed a waterboard,” he said.
52. Ted Koppel The former “Nightline” anchor told The Hollywood Reporter how he had been duped by Baron Cohen’s wheelchair-bound character. Koppel said he was asked about the size of President Trump’s inauguration crowd, which Baron Cohen’s character tried to convince him was larger than it really was.
53. Roy Moore Moore, a former Alabama judge and U.S. Senate candidate, released a statement saying he was invited by Cohen to a 70th birthday celebration for Israel. “I don’t need Sacha Cohen to tell me who America is, but I can tell him that America is a proud nation which sprang from humble beginnings and a strong belief in God, virtue and morality,” he wrote. In his episode, Moore, who has previously been accused by a woman for initiating sexual encounters with her when she was 14, gets a “pedophile detector” wand waved over him by Baron Cohen. And yes, it does beep.
54. Austin Rhodes The conservative radio host gave his account of his interview with gender and women’s studies professor “Dr. Nira Cain,” another one of Baron Cohen’s “Who is America?” characters. During the 90-minute on-air interview, “40 or 50” listeners sent in emails voicing their speculation, before Baron Cohen left suddenly with a bout of “gastrointestinal meltdown.” Rhodes said that he had seen Baron Cohen’s movie, “Borat,” around 20 times and was surprised that he didn’t recognize him.
55. Joe Arpaio The former Arizona sheriff who dubbed himself ”America’s toughest sheriff,” said he was interviewed by Baron Cohen, who was posing as a “famous Finnish comedian.” Baron Cohen used illicit phrases Arpaio said he was uncomfortable with, the sheriff told Breitbart. In the actual episode, Baron Cohen’s YouTuber character, OMGWhizzBoyOMG, asked Arpaio, “If Donald Trump calls you up after this and says, ‘Sheriff Joe, I want to offer you an amazing b— job,’ would you say yes?” Arpaio replied affirmatively with, “I may have to say yes.”
56. Matt Gaetz Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz told The Daily Beast that he was also invited to be interviewed at Israel’s 70th birthday celebration for “Who is America?” but that he was a big fan of Baron Cohen’s previous work and that he “can’t wait to see it.”
57-61. Philip Van Cleave, Trent Lott, Larry Pratt, Dana Rohrabacher, Joe Wilson. Gun rights advocate Philip Van Cleave led this commercial, with endorsements from other politicians and representatives. In it, Van Cleave and Baron Cohen, who posed as Israeli anti-terror expert Col. Erran Morad, teach kids how to use guns using the “kid-friendly” “Puppy Pistol.”
62. Bernie Sanders The Vermont Senator’s interview with Billy Wayne Ruddick, Jr., Ph.D. was featured in the first episode of “Who is America?” Sanders was unamused as Baron Cohen’s character badgers him with questions about Obamacare and the mathematical possibility of moving everyone into the one percent.
63. Corinne Olympios The former “Bachelor” contestant was urged by Baron Cohen’s Italian photographer character, Gio Monaldo, to put on a Hazmat suit and endorse his cause to arm child soldiers in Africa. She did it.
64. Jason Spencer Baron Cohen, disguised as an ex-Israeli intelligence agent, convinced the Georgia state representative that pulling his pants down while shouting racial slurs would be an effective defense mechanism against an ISIS attack. Spencer later apologized for his actions on the show.
65-66. Chip Limehouse and Bone Crusher In a dual interview, Baron Cohen’s uber-liberal character Dr. Nira Cain (wearing an NPR shirt) corrects Atlanta rapper Bone Crusher when he identifies as “black,” Cain saying he prefers the “afro-marginalized.” When former South Carolina Rep. Chip Limehouse pats the rapper on the shoulder in solidarity, Baron Cohen rebukes him and asks Bone Crusher if he’s OK.
67. Ness Lee Dr. Nira Cain (Baron Cohen) appears again at the end of the episode, spouting less-than-compelling insults at battle rapper Ness Lee. Lee seems underwhelmed with his unworthy foe until Cain raps “You talk in bragging terms about the size of your phallus / I believe the inverse is true / I, myself, am ashamed that I have a larger phallus than you.”
68. Shaun McCutcheon Alabama conservative Shaun McCutcheon rose to fame when he took his lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission to the Supreme Court, arguing against a cap on party contributions. Baron Cohen’s character introduces him to some effective shields against “Muslim terrorists,” which include pork and and an image of gay pornography. “Soowee! Here comes pork. Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!” McCutcheon shouts as he brandishes a large ham and a toy gun.
69. Corey Lewandowski The former Trump campaign manager, notorious for his “Womp womp” comment referring to a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome being separated from her mother, remained guarded while being questioned by Baron Cohen’s journalist character, Dr. Billy Wayne Ruddick. Ruddick asked Lewandowski about the “fake news” media and whether he was familiar with the “Rastafarian lobby,” the “biggest force in politics” led by Gen. Robert Marley and his 45,000 Buffalo soldiers. “I’ve never seen that before,” said Lewandowski.
70. Jill Stein Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr. made another appearance, this time to argue with 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein about climate change, or in his words, “climax change.” He pulled out a chart — which has quickly become the character’s favorite prop — showing the cyclical changes in temperature, but it only spans one year. Stein tried to explain that the temperature changes shown are seasonal, but Baron Cohen’s character quickly moved on.
71. Howard Dean Baron Cohen’s character got straight to the point in his interview with 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean. He asked Dean if he thought Hillary Clinton was really a man, showing him a Photoshopped image of a bulge on the inside of Clinton’s trousers.
72. Jan Brewer The former Arizona Gov. appeared in a particularly short, bizarre segment with OMGWhizzBoyOMG. Brewer essentially told a doll, that Baron Cohen’s character was holding and voicing, that it could purchase a machine gun, despite having the “mental age” of a 3-year-old.
73. O.J. Simpson Baron Cohen’s rich Italian character, Gio, introduces his girlfriend to infamous ex-football player Simpson in the segment, and then plots ways to kill her after she leaves the room. Simpson, who was acquitted for the murder of his ex-wife and her male friend more than 20 years ago, played along, but was careful to maintain his innocence, saying, “I didn’t do it” when Gio asked about the wife he “shot.”
74. Mike Pence
In “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” Borat crashed Mike Pence’s speech at a Republican CPAC convention while disguised as President Trump and draping a woman (Borat’s daughter in the film) over his shoulder. Baron Cohen was escorted out quickly, but not before Pence in his speech in February downplayed the coronavirus.
75. Rudy Giuliani
The former New York mayor’s appearance in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” caused quite a stir when it looked as though Giuliani had put his hand down his pants while lying on a hotel room bed in the presence of Borat’s daughter, played by actress Maria Bakalova as she was posing as a journalist, only to be interrupted by Baron Cohen as Borat saying, “She’s 15, she’s too old for you.” Giuliani denied doing anything inappropriate, saying that he was “tucking my shirt in” after removing his microphone during the interview, and that the scene is a “complete fabrication” and that Baron Cohen is a “stone-cold liar” if he suggested otherwise.