Joe Arpaio campaign staff laughs off Sacha Baron Cohen prank
PHOENIX — Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Senate campaign said the candidate wasn’t angry about the prank pulled by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for a TV show.
Cohen’s show “Who Is America?” has duped political figures into making questionable admissions or taking peculiar actions.
The episode with the Republican running in the primary for U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat aired Sunday night.
Arpaio, 86, was interviewed by Cohen disguised as a Finnish man unboxing children’s toys, but he also asked the former lawman to talk about what “Communists are (doing) trying to stop people having guns.”
— Dustin Stockton (@DustinStockton) August 6, 2018
Later he asked explicit questions about what Arpaio would allow President Donald Trump to do to him. (Warning: Video includes adult themes.)
“It’s obvious Joe didn’t fully understand Borat,” campaign communications director Jennifer Lawrence said in the tweet.
Borat is a controversial character Cohen played in a 2006 movie. He did much the same thing as he does on the TV show — adopting accents for sometimes bizarre characters and asking pointed, embarrassing questions of unsuspecting people.
Breitbart News reported in July the episode was filmed last fall and that Arpaio said he thought he’d been very careful in his answers.
Cohen then had Arpaio direct part of his answer to a tiny toy doughnut, after the Finnish man channeled some of his questions through a toy named “D’Lish Donut.”
“D’Lish Donut, you have to understand that you have to follow the Constitution and the law and allow people to have guns,” Arpaio said.
At one point, Arpaio looked downward at the toy and pointed his finger for emphasis as he argued that guns were an effective means of defense.
Cohen, whose character sported reddish orange hair and a garish floral-print shirt, also told Arpaio he has more than 43 guns.
“You have 43 guns?” Arpaio asked.
“Yes, I have been collecting them for the upcoming race war,” Cohen said.
Arpaio appeared surprised by the answer, but no further reaction from him was shown during the four-minute segment.
Trump pardoned the ex-sheriff who had been found guilty of misdemeanor contempt for ignoring court orders to end his immigration sweeps. The pardon was granted in August 2017.
The longtime Trump supporter is trailing rivals U.S. Rep. Martha McSally and Dr. Kelli Ward, a former state senator, in most polls.
Others who have been tricked by Cohen for his show include one-time GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.