White House turns away 'Kazakh reporter' Borat
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Borat, the fictional TV reporter from Kazakhstan, may have gotten under the skin of Kazakh officials, but Thursday he couldn't get past the gates of the White House.
Secret Service agents turned away British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, in character as the boorish, anti-Semitic journalist, when he tried to invite "Premier George Walter Bush" to a screening of his upcoming movie, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."
Also invited to the screening: O.J. Simpson, "Mel Gibsons" and other "American dignitaries."
Cohen's stunt was timed to coincide with an official visit by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is scheduled to meet with Bush Friday.
Nazarbayev and other Kazakh officials have sought to raise the profile of the oil-rich former Soviet republic and assure the West that, contrary to Borat's claims, theirs is not a nation of drunken anti-Semites who treat their women worse than their donkeys.
Kazakhstan is expected to become one of the top 10 oil producers within a decade. A U.S. ally with troops in Iraq, the country has drawn criticism for its deteriorating civil liberties and flawed elections.
Shortly after Nazarbayev dedicated a statue in front of the Kazakh embassy, Borat denounced an official Kazakh publicity campaign running in U.S. magazines as "disgusting fabrications" orchestrated by neighboring Uzbekistan.
"If there is one more item of Uzbek propaganda claiming that we do not drink fermented horse urine, give death penalty for baking bagels, or export over 300 tons of human pubis per year, then we will be left with no alternative but to commence bombardment of their cities with our catapults," Borat said.
Cohen, 35, who is Jewish, co-starred in the recent U.S. box office hit "Talladega Nights" and has appeared in TV comedy series "Da Ali G Show" on U.S. cable channel HBO and Britain's Channel 4.
Cohen's "Borat" comedy routine has drawn legal threats from the Kazakh government, which keeps a tight lid on criticism in its news media.
Kazakh press secretary Roman Vasilenko said he was worried that some may take the Borat routine seriously.
"He is not a Kazakh. What he represents is a country of Boratastan, a country of one," Vasilenko told Reuters.