SALT LAKE CITY — Sacha Baron Cohen tried to punk another Utah resident for his Showtime series, “Who is America,” but it didn’t work out very well for the actor bent on belittling conservatives with outrageous scenarios.
Cohen went after gun rights activist Janalee Tobias from South Jordan in an episode yet to air.
On Sunday, his exchange with active GOP member and campaigner David Pyne from West Jordan aired, focusing on pedophiles, pornography and graphic children’s books depicting animals with human genitalia engaged in sex acts.
Pyne did not fall for the ruse in two separate segments, looked clearly uncomfortable and refused to follow Cohen’s lead.
Cohen told Pyne — who has taken strong positions on pornography, returning prayer to public schools and abstinence only sex education — that he loves children and wanted to reclaim the word pedophile.
He reasoned that the word pedophile has been conscripted by molesters and instead should apply to people who love children. He then calls Pyne his pedophile friend.
“Don’t call me that,” Pyne says. “I am not a pedophile.”
Cohen pushes on, but Pyne rejects the ploy.
“I disagree with that definition, and I am offended if you use that in relationship to me,” Pyne said.
Cohen, in various disguises, has punked the likes of former Vice President Dick Cheney, GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and longtime former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Cohen’s show first approached GOP U.S. Senate candidate Larry Meyers, who finished third at the state convention as a contender for the seat held by retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Meyers was unavailable for filming a segment for a “conservative video production company,” and passed the opportunity on to Pyne.
“They asked me if I would be interviewed in panel discussion with a liberal on family values,” Pyne said.
He was flown to Las Vegas last December for videotaped interviews far different than what he anticipated.
“I was expecting a moderated discussion, instead it turned into a freewheeling interview. …What he wanted to discuss was pretty objectionable from the outset.”
Cohen was disguised as a balding man with a pot belly who was the father of 12-year-old boy he caught viewing pornography.
He told Pyne he punished him by making him watch pornography for 48 hours straight.
That later prompted Pyne to try to turn the man into child protective services after the filming was over, but he said he didn’t get far because of the phony name and background Cohen had detailed to him.
“I felt horrible. My heart went out to this imaginary son.”
Cohen also showed Pyne a children’s book called “Flopsy Finds a Funny Picture,” which depicts cartoon bunnies with human body parts engaged in various sex acts.
On the show, Pyne flatly states, “I think this book is a little too much for me.”
Cohen’s character says he wants to add Pyne as a co-author, which results in a fierce objection.
“I will not accept that and (will) sue you if you do,” Pyne told him, later adding, “You have caused me to have more negative energy than I have ever had before based on that behavior and it is unacceptable, it is hurtful and offensive beyond words.”
Pyne said he had no idea he was part of the “Who Is America?” show until it aired Sunday and people began contacting him.
The entire videotaped session lasted more than three hours, but only certain clips were shown. Pyne said there is deliberate editing of responses to make people look as foolish as possible, including a segment on a national database for porn consumers.
Pyne added he believes he was targeted because of political activity as a conservative, including serving at one time as Republican Sen. Mike Lee’s national security policy director and as adviser for former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, in defense, foreign policy and veteran’s affairs.
“I have heard from multiple people and complete strangers. They’ve told me, ‘Good job,’ for standing up to this liberal bully who is trying to demean and smear good Republicans.”
Pyne said he regrets participating in the segment and remains angry.
“I was really, really offended by it. I am not someone who gets angry easily, but he was really grating on me.”