Prime Minister Poutine
March 3, 2000

This Hour Has 22 Minutes star Rick Mercer
The American media have become fascinated by a prank pulled by Canadian comedian Rick Mercer, the star of CBC Television's "This Hour Has 22 Minutes."

The prank shows that American presidential candidate George W. Bush and another politician don't know the name of Canada's prime minister. George W. Bush is the son of former U.S. president George Bush.

Every week "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" has a segment on their show called "Talking to Americans." Comedian Rick Mercer asks Americans political questions about Canada to reveal how little they know about us.

Americans are voting for their next president in elections this November. Right now, potential candidates are travelling across the United States trying to gain political support.

At a recent event, reporters and people asking for autographs surrounded Bush and Michigan state governor John Engler, when Mercer popped out of the crowd.

Mercer told Engler, "Prime Minister Jean Poutine said he wouldn't endorse any candidate in this election, now he says he believes George W. Bush is the man to lead the free world into the 21st century."

Engler didn't catch Mercer substituting the word poutine - a Quebec mix of french fries, gravy and cheese curds - for the name Chretien.

Engler replied, "I certainly think he's got very good judgement in making that statement about George W. Bush."

Mercer moved on to George W. Bush and asked for a response to the same comment.

"He understands I want to make sure our relationship with our most important neighbour to the north of us is strong and we'll work closely together," Bush said.

The blunder delighted some journalists in the United States.

CBS Radio in the U.S. ran the skit and a story. The Wall Street Journal newspaper wrote about it yesterday.

But the Washington Post's columnist Al Kamer called it a bit unfair.

"I guess I'm a little sympathetic. He was a little tired. But I appreciate shows like This Hour Has 22 Minutes because they lighten things up," Kamer says.

However, Kamer made a mistake of his own. He mistook the word "poutine" for "Putin", believing Mercer was referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

World politics is a sensitive area for Bush, who recently failed a pop quiz on world leaders with a reporter.

(Sources: CBC News Online, The Washington Post)


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