Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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The Palin prank

The prank call to Sarah Palin by two Montreal radio hosts last week has had lots of coverage in the American media. Just this morning the two were on CBS’ “The Early Show” (click here for the video of their appearance on CBS). The Globe and Mail has a more accurate transcript of the call than others that have been published. While some media don’t seem to get what was so funny about the whole thing, Salon.com does a pretty good job of explaining it all here.

Today they also published a more detailed account of how this prank came to be, which includes a couple of other amusing details from behind the scenes:

S├ębastien Trudel and Marc-Antoine Audette, co-hosts of Les Cerveaux de l’info, the drive-home show on Montreal’s CKOI-FM, spent five days last week persuading Ms. Palin’s Republican Party staff that French President Nicolas Sarkozy wanted to speak with her by phone and wish her well in tomorrow’s election.

“When we started to work on the idea last Tuesday,” Mr. Audette said in an interview yesterday, “we thought it would be mission impossible. But after about a dozen calls, we started to realize it might work, because her staff didn’t know the name of the French President. They asked us to spell it.”

Clearly, the joke is not just on Sarah Palin. What’s hilarious is that these guys got so far in just a few days of trying to reach Palin in these last few days of a busy campaign. This says a lot about her staff, who also needed to write down the name of the French President in case they forgot it.

After trumpetting her experience of living next to Canada and Russia as proof of her foreign policy experience, the fact that Palin clearly doesn’t even know the name of Canada’s Prime Minister is only icing on the cake. After all, not knowing the name of the leader of the United States’ number one trading partner has never been something that has prevented someone from becoming President.

(Incidentally, I just discovered a 2000 Democracy Now interview with Rick Mercer regarding George Bush’s famous endorsement by Jean Poutine. Great listening.)

3 comments

1 Kat { 11.04.08 at 4:06 am }

To be fair, and believe me, I’m no Palin for VP fan, the radio host was talking pretty fast when he got to the parts about Canada and Hustler. The funny thing, at least to me, is that she did sound star-struck, and she didn’t seem to be trying very hard to have an intelligent conversation. Sigh.
The prank does serve the purpose of once again highlighting everyone’s fears about her preparedness for the job.

2 Paul Martin { 11.04.08 at 10:04 am }

I agree. You’ll notice, too, that Mercer sort of rushes the name of the Canadian Prime Minister in that prank. The Jean Poutine thing wouldn’t be as funny as it is if Bush hadn’t been bragging about how no one could stump him about the names of world leaders.
What both of these pranks take advantage of is the eagerness of both politicians to believe that the person to whom they are speaking is being completely sincere. I find that funny but also a bit endearing in a way. Clearly both of those people were not ready to be world leaders, though. Knowing something about their country’s largest trading partner (the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world) would be an asset, one would think. Still, I think both people who were pranked there also reveal their good nature. Bush, when he finally did come to Canada, was quick to mock himself by asking where he could find Jean Poutine with a self-deprecating wit we don’t often see him display when he’s in the US.

3 Gene Fitzpatrick { 11.18.08 at 6:49 am }

I believe that the amount of ridicule which Palin has been subjected to is out of order. She is an easy target for cynics but this doesn’t give anyone an excuse to poke fun at her.