Former congressman Barney Frank and disgraced former football star O.J. Simpson were among Sacha Baron Cohen’s targets in the final episode of Showtime’s “Who Is America?”
Over the course of seven episodes, Cohen has duped a host of public figures including former vice president Dick Cheney, former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. Sunday was the show’s season finale, and Cohen tweeted ahead of the episode that the series would not return for a second season.
In the first segment, Frank sat opposite Cohen, disguised as conservative conspiracy theorist Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., who runs the fictional Truthbrary.org. Frank, one of the few liberal politicians to have found themselves in Cohen’s crosshairs, emphatically dismissed Ruddick’s assertion that President Trump “is the greatest president that this country has ever seen.”
Ruddick tried in vain to convince Frank that Trump wasn’t actually talking about groping women on the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape that emerged just weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Rather, Ruddick said, Trump had been trying to help Billy Bush combat a rat infestation. Ruddick played a clearly (and ridiculously) doctored recording to support his theory, but Frank wasn’t having it. “That’s deluded,” he told Ruddick.
Ruddick switched topics to Pizzagate, a viral conspiracy theory that advanced the baseless claim that Hillary Clinton and other high-profile Democrats were involved in a pedophilia ring run out of a D.C. pizzeria. Frank eventually walked out of the interview after Ruddick suggested that the notation “Child — Free” on one of the restaurant’s receipts meant that the pizzeria was giving away children.
Cohen had more success pranking Simpson, the former NFL running back who in 1995 was found not guilty in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ron Goldman. In a hidden camera segment, Cohen appeared as Gio Monaldo, an outlandish Italian photographer, who was flanked by a woman Simpson repeatedly called “gorgeous.”
Monaldo, in Cohen’s faux Italian accent, introduced Simpson to his companion as a former player for “the Buffalo Billah,” but she didn’t get the reference. Nor did she draw a connection when Monaldo brought up Simpson’s appearances in the Naked Gun franchise. It wasn’t until Monaldo feigned a stabbing motion toward her neck that she recognized Simpson: “Oh mama mia, O.J.,” she said before extending her hand to greet him. “So nice to meet you!”
When the woman left the room, Simpson told Monaldo that she was gorgeous, and Cohen’s character agreed, but added “sometimes I want to kill her.”
“Hey,” Simpson said, laughing nervously. “Stop. Stop.”
Monaldo laughed as he suggested various ways he might kill his girlfriend. “Maybe I send her on a bungee jump, you know, oh the cord!”
“Cord extra long,” Simpson offered. “Bang!”
At one point, Monaldo told Simpson of a friend who was “obsessed with what happened that night with the wife” and said the friend wanted to talk to him about it. “We want you to be 100 percent truthful about how you got away with it,” Monaldo added.
“Hey, hey, I didn’t get away with nothing,” Simpson said.
“Me and you, we got something in common,” Monaldo told Simpson. “We both, how you say, lady killers? You know, it’s not what it sounds like. In Italian it translates to ‘somebody who, uh, murders women.’”
“No, I ain’t kill nobody,” Simpson said, laughing.
Sunday’s episode notably did not include a segment featuring former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who said ahead of the show’s July premiere that she had been tricked into a bogus interview with Cohen. Palin said Cohen was “heavily disguised” as a disabled U.S. veteran with “a fake wheelchair.” A Twitter account for Cohen’s Ruddick character appeared to confirm the Palin prank, but Showtime disputed her claim that Cohen used a fake wheelchair. As Ruddick, Cohen appeared on a motorized scooter throughout the series.
While it appears the Palin segment will not be seen, Cohen did give a nod to the former vice presidential candidate in the finale credits, recognizing her as a “special publicity consultant (inadvertent).”