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Sacha Baron Cohen pranks former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio into debating gun control with a Shopkins toy

A series of public figures have fallen prey to Sacha Baron Cohen’s controversial new show, “Who is America?” (Video: Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)

Former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio has been an outspoken and controversial supporter of gun rights, but it’s probably safe to say his gun control debate with a Shopkins character known as D’lish Donut marked a first.

Like a growing number of politicians and public figures, Arpaio — the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America” now running for a Senate seat in Arizona — has comedian Sacha Baron Cohen to thank for the bizarre moment, which aired Sunday as part of Cohen’s Showtime series “Who Is America?”

For his Arpaio segment, Cohen appeared as a Finnish YouTube star who sports a large orange streak in his blond hair and goes by the handle “OMGWhizzBoyOMG!” The fake YouTuber somehow persuaded Arpaio to participate in an “unboxing” video, ostensibly to reveal the characters in a package of Shopkins — the wildly popular and tiny collectible toy figures — while he interviewed him about his career and friendship with President Trump.

Cohen, as OMGWhizzBoy, unwrapped a miniature Shopkins box as he asked Arpaio to explain “what communists are trying to do to stop people having guns.”

“Well, that’s a big issue,” Arpaio said. “I will say, over and over again, guns don’t kill, people kill.”

Cohen’s YouTuber revealed his first figure to be D’lish Donut and told Arpaio that the character was “anti-guns.” “I think all the guns should be given back,” Cohen said in his best Shopkins voice.

“Delicious Donut, you have to understand that you have to follow the Constitution and the law and allow people to have guns,” Arpaio told the figure.

Cohen offered D’lish Donut’s reply: “But I want the guns to be taken back because they are dangerous!”

Arpaio leaned in toward the small toy. “The bad guys are going to get their guns. It’s gonna kill you,” he said, pointing his finger at D’lish Donut. “I’m hoping that somebody else in there has a gun and will shoot that person before he shoots you.”

Cohen also asked about Arpaio’s staunch support of Trump, who famously pardoned the former sheriff last year less than a month after he was convicted of criminal contempt. The Trump discussion involved some off-color sexual euphemisms, which Cohen used during a discussion about “jobs.” At one point, Cohen — somewhat confusingly to Arpaio, it seems — jumped to using a term for oral sex that includes the word “job,” asking Arpaio if he would accept it if Trump offered it, and Arpaio responded, “I may have to say yes.”

Arpaio revealed himself to be among Cohen’s victims in an interview last month with Breitbart News. Arpaio said that he went into the interview believing he would be talking with a Finnish comedian and that producers led him to believe the host was a Trump supporter. Arpaio said he was asked about his hard-line immigration views, and recalled being “very careful in responding to controversial issues.”

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Arpaio told Breitbart that Cohen “came up with certain words” that were hard for him to hear, and that certain phrases made him “very uncomfortable” — so uncomfortable, he typed notes to document the strange encounter. He also told the site that he signed “some kind of contract” before filming the interview but “did not read all the info.”

Cohen’s isn’t the first questionable interview Arpaio has done. As The Washington Post’s Eli Rosenberg reported, the former sheriff gave his fifth interview to the American Free Press, an anti-Semitic weekly publication, this year. As criticism erupted over the interview, Arpaio told the Arizona Republic that he had been unaware of the publication’s views.

“I talk to all media, so what am I supposed to do?” Arpaio told the newspaper. “Investigate every media outlet to see what stories they write?”

Read more:

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