Yesterday, at a Senate hearing on the privacy implications of data mining, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) asked former Georgia congressman (and recent Libertarian Party convert) Bob Barr about his bit part in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan:
Barr: "Information was gathered at that interview under false pretenses."
Specter: "Did you have any rights to stop its showing or distribution because of the invasion of your privacy?"
Barr: "There may be. I know that some legal actions by some other persons involved are being pursued. I elected not to pursue it, believing essentially that the more that one wastes time or engages in those sorts of activities, the more publicity you bring to something."
Specter: "Did you see the movie?"
Barr: "I have not. I know folks who have."
Specter: "It was a most extraordinary movie, and that the interview with you was about the only part of the movie worth seeing."
Barr: "I'll take that as a compliment, Senator."
Barr's expression upon learning that the cheese he has just sampled was made from Borat's wife's breast milk is indeed one of the movie's highlights. But it's rather strange to describe Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen's practice of tricking public figures into interviews with his Kazakh-journalist alter ego (as well as with the equally dimwitted hip-hop hipster Ali G and the slightly smarter fashion reporter Bruno) as an invasion of privacy. Barr knew the interview was being recorded; he just didn't know Borat was a fictional character. It's not as if Cohen used a hidden camera to catch Barr picking his nose while sitting on the toilet.
The exchange with Specter raises a question even more important than the debate over exactly how libertarian Barr is: Does he have a sense of humor?
[via Extreme Mortman]