Sacha Baron Cohen may look nearly unrecognizable in a sneak peek of his new Showtime series “Who Is America?” but that hardly seems like an excuse for the Republican politicians who appear in a segment about arming preschoolers.
The network released a clip on Sunday, the same day the show will premiere, featuring a heavily disguised Baron Cohen getting current and former GOP lawmakers to film an ad supporting a program that calls for arming “gifted” children ages 4 through 12.
During the segment, Baron Cohen was in character as Col. Erran Morad, an Israeli anti-terror expert and self-proclaimed “Terrorist Terminator.” In response to mass shootings in America, Morad said he developed a program called “Kinder Guardians,” which trains U.S. toddlers in preschools to use firearms.
He went to Washington, D.C., to find congressional support for his (fictional) program, and managed to get several lawmakers and lobbyists to sit for the camera.
“Maybe having many young people trained and understand how to defend themselves and their school might actually make us safer here,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) says, appearing to read off a cue card.
“A 3-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a Hello Kitty pencil case at it,” Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) adds. “Our founding fathers did not put an age limit on the Second Amendment.”
Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and former Republican congressman Joe Walsh (Ill.) also appear in the ad endorsing the program.
“In less than a month, a first grader can become a first grenader,” Walsh says.
But perhaps the most damning and ridiculous lines were given to gun lobbyist Larry Pratt, who recited them verbatim after expressing his staunch support for such an idea.
“Toddlers are pure ― uncorrupted by fake news or homosexuality,” Pratt says. “They don’t worry if it’s politically correct to shoot a mentally deranged gunman. They’ll just do it. The science behind this program is proven. At age 4, a child processes images 80 percent faster than an adult meaning that essentially, like owls, they can see in slow motion.”
Walsh also responded to the clip in an interview with CNN on Saturday and on Twitter the next day. He said he does not believe America should train and arm 5-year-olds, and he detailed how he says he was tricked into endorsing the program.
Walsh says he was told he was getting an award from an Israeli TV station for his ongoing support.
“After they conducted an interview, they had me read off of a teleprompter talking about some of the innovative products that Israel invented,” Walsh told CNN. “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?”
CORRECTIONS: A previous version of this post misstated the title of Baron Cohen’s new Showtime series and the name of Rep. Joe Wilson, the Republican congressman from South Carolina.