ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia lawmaker is the latest public figure caught with his pants down on provocateur Sacha Baron Cohen’s new cable TV series — this time literally, as the state legislator exposes his bottom, yells a racial slur for black people, speaks with a mock Asian accent and defends his failed plan to ban burqas in public.
In Sunday night’s broadcast of Cohen’s Showtime series “Who Is America?,” Cohen plays an Israeli military expert and told Republican Rep. Jason Spencer to take part in what he was told was a counterterrorism video. Spencer is told to yell racial epithets and shimmy his exposed rear-end toward purported Muslim attackers screaming “USA” and “America.” Cohen told Spencer the performance would ward off terrorists.
The segment also shows Spencer speaking with a mocking Asian accent while pretending to use a selfie-stick to surreptitiously insert a camera phone under a Muslim woman’s burqa.
The Georgia legislator has been criticized in the past for saying things deemed offensive to blacks and Muslims. But he isn’t the first public figure to be fooled by Cohen in his Showtime series. Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Arizona sheriff and senate candidate Joe Arpaio have also been duped.
Spencer lost in the May primary but his term doesn’t end until his replacement takes over after the November election. But The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia House Speaker David Ralston has called for Spencer to resign.
“Representative Spencer has disgraced himself and should resign immediately,” Ralson said. “Georgia is better than this.”
The newspaper reports Spencer had earlier threatened legal action to prevent the network from airing footage of him.
In a statement Monday, Spencer apologized for the “ridiculously ugly episode” but he refused to step down from office. He also said he thought the techniques in Showtime segment would prevent “what I believed was an inevitable attack.”
Other Georgia leaders also criticized Spencer.
“There is no excuse for this type of behavior, ever,” Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said in a tweet, “and I am saddened and disgusted by it.”
The Islamic Council on American-Islamic Relations also called for Spencer’s resignation.
“The ignorance and malice behind Islamophobia has led Mr. Spencer to not only pursue bad policy, but engage in humiliating and hateful behavior unbecoming of anyone — especially a state legislator,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, director of the group’s Georgia chapter.
Spencer faced calls for his resignation last year after he warned a black former state legislator that she won’t be “met with torches but something a lot more definitive” if she continued to call for the removal of Confederate statues in southern Georgia, the newspaper reported.
An earlier version of this report had an incorrect spelling of Sacha Baron Cohen’s name.