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Photo: Ben Pruchnie/WireImage

A wave of Republicans have come forward saying they were tricked into saying or endorsing things by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen on his new Showtime series, "Who is America?"

The bottom line: This isn't the first time Cohen has done something like this. In 2003, Cohen even spoke to Donald Trump on his program, "Da Ali G Show," along with other notables like Buzz Aldrin and former CIA deputy director Richard Kerr.

What they're saying
  • Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said in a Facebook post that her and her daughter were "duped" by Cohen: "I sat through a long 'interview' full of Hollywoodism’s disrespect and sarcasm - but finally had enough and literally, physically removed my mic and walked out, much to Cohen’s chagrin. The disrespect of our US military and middle-class Americans via Cohen’s foreign commentaries under the guise of interview questions was perverse."
  • Former Congressman Joe Walsh says he was "fooled" by Cohen into supporting a program that would arm children as young as three years old, called "Kinderguardians."
  • Republican Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Joe Wilson also supported the program on Cohen's show, the Washington Post reports.
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz is the only politician that refused "to endorse Kinderguardians on the spot," the Daily Beast reports.

Be smart: It's not just Republicans on Cohen's show. Sen. Bernie Sanders was also a guest, speaking about health care and wealth distribution, Yahoo reports.

  • Cohen's character, Billy Wayne Ruddick, tells Sanders: "I was a healthy man, and Obamacare came in. I was forced to see a doctor. And suddenly, I had three diseases. Suddenly, I had, uh, diabetes one and two, I had obese legs, and I had chalky deposits.”

Go deeper: Watch a first look at Baron Cohen's show below.

Go deeper

23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.

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