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The Skinny: The Real Borat Takes Stage

The Skinny, Hillary Profita's take on the top of the news and the best of the Web, appears daily here on Public Eye and on the "Evening News" page at

On the Web, Borat-related news is still racking up mucho page views. What's that? You've read all that you can handle about the faux Kazakh reporter and all the people who are suing him? Well make room, dear reader. Rolling Stone has an interview with Sacha Baron Cohen and he's not in character. Because that's how he's conducted every other interview during his Borat media junket -- as Borat. Several people have whined about that.

So, it's kind of a big deal that he did the interview as himself. Rolling Stone certainly thinks so: "Sacha Baron Cohen - The Real Borat - Finally Speaks: In his only interview as himself, Sacha Baron Cohen talks about growing up kosher in London, inventing a new kind of comedy with Ali G and conquering Hollywood with Borat." (It's actually not his only interview as himself – in 2004 Baron Cohen spoke with Robert Siegel of NPR's "All Things Considered.")

Cohen reveals to Rolling Stone the (long-awaited) philosophy of Borat: "Borat essentially works as a tool. By himself being anti-Semitic, he lets people lower their guard and expose their own prejudice, whether it's anti-Semitism or an acceptance of anti-Semitism. 'Throw the Jew Down the Well' [a song performed at a country & western bar during Da Ali G Show] was a very controversial sketch, and some members of the Jewish community thought that it was actually going to encourage anti-Semitism. But to me it revealed something about that bar in Tucson. And the question is: Did it reveal that they were anti-Semitic? Perhaps. But maybe it just revealed that they were indifferent to anti-Semitism."

UPDATE: An astute CBSNews.commer alerts us to two more appearances in which Baron Cohen appeared as himself: YouTube has clips of old interviews with the real deal on The Daily Show and David Letterman, both discussing "Da Ali G Show." Enjoy.

Nancy Pelosi's Train Wreck

While it was Rep. Steny Hoyer who received the nod yesterday for the new House Majority Leader, it's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- also officially elected to her post Thursday -- who's getting most of the attention with regard to the majority leader's race. "Pelosi Rebuffed," began the New York Times' headline. "House speaker-to-be Pelosi got off to a bad start," the Wall Street Journal writes in its news box.

Her "aggressive, last-minute campaign for [Rep. John] Murtha in the face of overwhelming support for Hoyer left many Democrats worried that she has become too reliant on a tight inner circle, too reluctant to listen to the broader Democratic caucus and mistakenly convinced that she can dictate the direction the caucus must take," writes the Washington Post. The Los Angeles Times reports that "people close to Pelosi" attribute a one-word explanation to her support of Murtha: loyalty.

One "House Democrat close to both Pelosi and Hoyer told the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity (you'll know why it just a second): "Basically, she got spanked. She got taken to the woodshed. If she doesn't get it, this is going to be a big problem over the long run." On the positive side, the whole debacle probably filled about 12 hours of programming on "The Situation Room."

USA Today's Testosterone High

USA Today leaves this development off of its front page, opting instead to gain the readership of teenage to 20-something males. One article describes the apparent chaos over the sale of Playstation 3's, which began this morning. At a Circuit City in Oregon, a line for the PS3's "began forming Tuesday." Another front-pager discusses "how big" Saturday's football game between Ohio State and Michigan is expected to be. ("About as big as it gets," former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler told the paper.)

Economist Milton Friedman

USA Today leaves out another piece of news from its front page that everyone else includes: the death of Nobel prize-winning economist Milton Friedman at age 94. The NYT describes him as the "spiritual heir to Adam Smith, the 18th-century founder of the science of economics and proponent of laissez-faire: that government governs best which governs least." The Wall Street Journal also features a detailed obituary, writing that "few would argue against the notion that Mr. Friedman -- with highly technical academic papers, popular books and columns, and the ear of powerful politicians -- helped to shift the center of debate in the U.S. and abroad about the proper role of government in managing a nation's economy." The Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post also carry front-page obits.

She's So Fine

If you're already sick of 2008 talk here in the U.S. (count me in,) the NYT has a front page piece on France's impending presidential elections, where a woman, Ségolène Royal, is the Socialist Party's nominee. "Ms. Royal's victory followed months of mudslinging and maneuvering in a campaign that pitted her against the party's older, more established — and male — "elephants," whom she had dared to challenge." Ah, mudslinging and maneuvering. We're not so different from the French after all.

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