A video featuring former Vice President Dick Cheney signing a ‘waterboarding’ device’ has gone viral. The clip is a teaser for comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s new undercover-in-character series called ‘Who is America?’
Cheney himself teased the show in a clip posted Monday by Showtime, the premium-cable network where ‘Who is America?’ is set to premiere next Sunday. The clip promised to showcase Cohen “as you’ve never, ever seen him before.”
Cohen gained fame – and notoriety – by doing in-character interview comedy, starting with his 2000 Da Ali G Show, which aired on UK’s Channel 4 before moving to HBO in 2003. The show spawned a series of feature film spin-offs, starting with Ali G Indahouse (2002), Borat (2006) and Bruno (2009).
The 2006 movie, featuring the “Kazakh” journalist Borat Sagdiyev, mostly took place in America and mocked the Bush administration’s “war of terror,” with vignettes on bigotry and racism. The follow-up, featuring “gay Austrian fashion reporter” Brüno Gehard, didn’t do so well, while 2012’s “The Dictator,” featuring Cohen as Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen, mocked Libya’s freshly ousted – and brutally murdered – leader Muammar Gaddafi.
It even earned Cohen some derision from Donald J. Trump, who was still a real estate magnate at that point.
Glad to see that Sacha Baron Cohen's new movie is not only a dud but not too good at the box office. He is talentless. @Sacha_B_Cohen
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 22, 2012
Last week, however, Cohen resurfaced on Twitter and posted a video of Trump urging him to “go to school, learn about being funny.”
“Sacha graduates soon,” the tweet said.
As a follow-up, he posted a short clip of Cheney being asked to sign his character’s “waterboarding kit,” which looked like a one-gallon plastic water jug. Cheney does it with a smile, and says it was the first time anyone asked him to sign a “waterboard.”
Waterboarding is a form of ‘enhanced interrogation’ practiced by US interrogators during the Bush administration’s ‘War on Terror’ following 9/11, in which a subject would be tied to a board and water would be poured over a cloth covering their face to simulate drowning. Cheney has defended the torture practice.
While little is known about Cohen’s new character, Showtime has described him as “shameless,”“unhinged,” and “cold-blooded,” and the network called ‘Who is America?’, “perhaps the most dangerous show in the history of television.”
“Sacha is a comedic genius who shocks you with his audacity, bravery and inventiveness,” Showtime CEO David Nevins said in a statement. “Behind the elaborate setup is a genuine quest for the truth about people, places and politics.”
Kazakhstan, however, has never fully recovered from Borat, where, according to a 2016 Vice review, “almost every detail the film presented about the country was a complete and unflattering fabrication.”
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