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Talking to Americans

"Talking To Americans" was a regular feature presented by Rick Mercer on the Canadian political satire show This Hour Has 22 Minutes. It was later spun off into a one-hour special that aired on April 1, 2001 at 9 PM on CBC Television.
It consisted in interviewing Americans on the street and supposedly duping them into agreeing with ridiculous statements about Canada. The intent was to satirize American ignorance of its neighbour. Examples included Americans persuaded to congratulate Canada on legalizing insulin or adopting the twenty-four-hour day; to exhort the Canadian government to install an air conditioner to preserve the National Igloo; or to agree that the U.S. should bomb Saskatchewan or send ground troops into Gilles Duceppe. In fact, some of the Americans interviewed seemed just to be playing along, although professors at distinguished American universities seemed always to be taken in by absurdities like the Saskatchewan seal hunt.

The most famous segment featured Mr. Mercer in 2000 asking then-presidential candidate George W. Bush – who had previously stated that "you can't stump me on world leaders" – for his reaction to an endorsement by Canadian Prime Minister "Jean Poutine". Bush responded diplomatically and said he looked forward to working together with his future counterpart to the north. However, the prime minister's name (back then) was Jean Chrétien; poutine is a French-Canadian fast food dish of french fries and cheese curd, and also was potentially inspired by recent jokes about Russian president Vladimir Putin who has a similar name. Also, Chrétien had not endorsed any candidate at the time and, in any event, it does not behoove the head of a neighboring country's government to take such a stand regarding U.S. presidential races. Bush's opponent, Vice President Al Gore, also fell victim to Mercer, when he was asked about the Canadian capital Toronto (it is actually Ottawa). Read here for more info

The special was a co-production between Island Edge Inc and Salter Street Films.


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