Sacha Baron Cohen, whose British-produced Da Ali G Show on HBO has raised the blood pressure levels of Andy Rooney, Sam Donaldson and Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton, among others, has reportedly done it again.
In the guise of his naïve yet bigoted character, Borat from Kazakhstan, the satirical Cohen, 33, reportedly sent a crowd’s collective temper flying when he mangled "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a rodeo in Salem, Va.
According to the Roanoke Times, the song followed Borat’s declaration to the crowd that he supported America's war on terrorism. "I hope you kill every man, woman and child in Iraq down to the lizards," Borat announced. "And may George W. Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq."
"Downright nasty" was the paper's description of the crowd’s reaction before
Cohen and his production crew were escorted out of the Salem Civic Center and ordered off the premises. "If he had been out there a minute longer, I think somebody would have shot him," said one observer.
"Had we not gotten them out of there, there would have been a riot," rodeo producer Bobby Rowe told the Times. "They loaded up the van and they screeched out of there."
In London, reports Reuters, producers of Da Ali G Show were unavailable for comment.
Not that Cohen has ever avoided controversy. Last year, a segment on the show that caused widespread debate – and an official protest from the Anti-Defamation League – involved Borat's appearance at a country music bar in the Southwest, where Cohen (who is Jewish) sang an anti-Semitic song, "Throw the Jew Down the Well."
In the guise of another of his alter egos, the rapper Ali G, Cohen was summarily told to get out of Andy Rooney’s office by Rooney himself, who – unaware that he was being put on – found Ali G too uneducated for the veteran commentator’s liking.