Joe Walsh explains how Sacha Baron Cohen tricked him into supporting giving toddlers guns

 
By Travis M. Andrews
The Washington Post
Updated 7/15/2018 4:22 PM
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  • Former Rep. Joe Walsh gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in November 2011. In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Walsh said comedian Sacha Baron Cohen tricked him into supporting arming kindergartners for the new satire series "Who Is America?"

    Former Rep. Joe Walsh gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in November 2011. In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Walsh said comedian Sacha Baron Cohen tricked him into supporting arming kindergartners for the new satire series "Who Is America?" Associated Press File Photo

Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh joined Sarah Palin and Roy Moore in decrying Sacha Baron Cohen's new satire series "Who Is America?" during an interview Saturday on CNN.

Cohen is "a funny guy because he gets people to say stupid things," Walsh told the network. "He gets people to say stupid things because he lies to them."

Walsh was one of the many politicians and pundits who Cohen fooled in the Showtime comedy's premiere. The conservative talk-show host appeared in the show's final segment called "KILL OR BE KILLED" in which Cohen -- as fake Israeli "anti-terror expert" Col. Erran Morad -- offers a "solution" to America's epidemic of school shootings.

"The NRA wants to arm the teachers. This is crazy. They should be arming the children," Cohen as Morad says, before introducing his (fake) new program called "Kinderguardians." The program would arm children as young as 3 and train them to use the weapons against "naughty men." He makes it clear that 3 is the age limit, however, because "they don't call them the terrible twos for nothing."

During the segment, Cohen-as-Morad teams with staunch gun rights activist and president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Philip Van Cleave, to create a partially animated children's video, replete with gunimals (guns that look like stuffed animals) and even a nursery rhyme about the best part of the body to strike ("Aim at the head, shoulders, not the toes, not the toes," Van Cleave sings, punctuated by Cohen-as-Morad rhythmically yelling "fire!").

Cohen-as-Morad then heads to Washington, D.C., to find political support for his program. Several prominent members of the right give just that, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., along with former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott. It's here that he encounters Walsh, who enthusiastically backs the program.

"The intensive three-week Kinderguardian course introduces specially selected children from 12 to 4 years old to pistols, rifles, semiautomatics and a rudimentary knowledge of mortars," Walsh says directly into the camera. "In less than a month -- less than a month -- a first-grader can become a first grenade-er."

"Happy shooting, kids," he adds. It's the last line in the show.

As Walsh explained on CNN, Cohen duped him by telling him that he was "getting an award from some Israeli TV station because I'm a great supporter of Israel."

"After they conducted an interview, they had me read off of a teleprompter talking about some of the innovative products that Israel invented," Walsh explained. "Then they had me read about this 4-year-old child in Israel who, when a terrorist entered his classroom, somehow he grabbed the terrorist's gun and held the terrorist at bay. And that was an example of how Israel trains and arms preschool kids on how to use firearms, and boy shouldn't we do that in America?"

He said as he read it, he thought, "Well, this is kind of crazy, but it is Israel and Israel is strong on defense." Later, "we found out this whole thing was made up."

Walsh said he didn't realize until 3 a.m. the next morning that he'd been "duped." He reiterated on Twitter Sunday that "no, I don't believe we should train & arm kindergartners."

The former congressman also took to Twitter last week to explain what happened to him and to urge people to "#BoycottShowtime."

Walsh is just one of many angry with Cohen for the new show, including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who said she was victim of a "truly sick" prank in which she flew across the country to meet a disabled U.S. veteran -- who turned out to be Cohen in disguise.

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