Talking to Americans: dishonest or funny?

It’s been years since Rick Mercer famously duped former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in an episode of This Hour Has 22 Minutes‘ popular segment ‘Talking to Americans’. Now Steve Brawner, a former Huckabee communications rep (now a freelance journalist) has accused Mercer of “dishonest editing.”

-Rick Mercer talks to Americans

The segment in question was aired in the late 1990s. After asking several Arkansas citizens about the fight to save Canada’s capitol building (an igloo that risked destruction by global warming), he convinced Huckabee to say,

“Hi, I’m Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas wanting to say, ‘Congratulations, Canada, on preserving your national igloo.”

Mercer dropped the ‘Talking to Americans’ segment after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. So why did Brawner wait so long to weigh in? He paired Mercer’s “dishonestly edited video” with the “dishonestly edited video about ACORN” that recently caused the organization to disband.

Brawner writes:

“It recalls memories of an experience I had in the late 1990s, when I was a naive ex-newspaperman working on Huckabee’s communications staff. One day, a Canadian film crew arrived at the door and made a vague request for a quote from the governor congratulating their country about some igloo that had been found there. I assumed it was an important archaeological discovery and, trying to be accommodating, notified the governor, who agreed to make a quick comment on his way out the door. And that’s what happened.”

“Only it’s not all that happened. It turned out that the nice reporter actually was Rick Mercer, host of “This Hour Has 22 Minutes,” which fills up part of that 22 minutes by ridiculing Americans for their lack of knowledge about Canada, much to the delight of Canadians.”

“During the bit, Mercer duped one Arkansan at the Capitol into believing that Canada’s capitol building is an igloo that Canadians were trying to rescue from global warming by covering it with a dome. Huckabee later briefly appears on the video to say exactly what he was asked to say: “Hi, I’m Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas wanting to say, ‘Congratulations, Canada, on preserving your national igloo.'” The video implies that Huckabee also fell for the joke even though he said nothing about Parliament or global warming. But audiences then and now believed Mercer’s version of the truth.”

“The video was a topic of conversation when Huckabee ran for president in 2008 and no doubt will return if he runs again. And why wouldn’t it? A leading presidential candidate looks thoroughly uniformed and gullible, when in reality he mostly has been the victim of dishonest editing.”

But do the two videos–one unfairly accusing an organization of promoting child prostitution, the other a parody show lampooning American ignorance of Canada–really deserve to be lumped together?

What do you think? Is Mike Huckabee, as Brawner says, the “the victim of dishonest editing?”

The CBC, which broadcasts 22 Minutes says: “Of course, whether it’s dishonest or comedic is in the eye of the beholder.”