Kerry: ‘When did the comedians go to India?’

Did you hear the one about the Indian-American comedians the State Department sent to tour India?

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Neither did Secretary of State John Kerry.

In January 2012, when Kerry was still a U.S. senator, the government spent $88,000 to send the “Make Chai Not War” comedy trio overseas to highlight American entertainment — and so the stand-up comics could “disappoint our parents in their homeland,” according to a promotional video posted by the U.S. embassy in New Delhi.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) mentioned the two-year-old expense during a Senate Foreign Relations hearing Tuesday in the lead-up to a question about the adequacy of the United States’s protection of its embassies in dangerous countries.

When did the comedians go to India? I’m curious,” said Kerry, who was testifying.

Then, after a quip about needing “a few [comedians] right now,” Kerry reiterated, “I’m curious about that. I didn’t know that.”

It’s not the first time Paul used the India comedy trip to make the same point. At a Senate Foreign Relations hearing in January 2013 (Kerry wasn’t there) Paul brought it up to criticize then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she testified on the Benghazi attacks.

“I can understand that maybe you’re not aware that your department spent $100,000 on three comedians who went to India on a promotional tour called Make Chai Not War,” Paul said, but added, it was “inexcusable” that she hadn’t read cables about the security concerns at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi.

Maybe Paul needs some new material?

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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