It was the Mother of All Publicity Stunts for Sacha Baron Cohen — and one that may set relations with the Muslim world back to the Crusades.
Dressed in full character from his upcoming movie “The Dictator,” and borrowing a page from the late Moammar Khadafy, he was surrounded by a phalanx of the hottest female security guards this side of Tripoli.
Two dozen “supporters” cheered on His Excellency General Admiral Aladeen, waving placards at the Waldorf-Astoria with Cohen’s portrait and slogans like “Give Persecution a Chance.”
“Welcome devils of the Zionist media and death to the West,” announced Cohen, who is Jewish himself but plays the despot of the fictional Northern African nation of Wadiya in the flick that opens May 16.
He answered a series of pre-screened questions, including one from The Daily News asking whom he’d endorse in the U.S. presidential election.
He said he really liked the conservative Rick Santorum, whose policies Cohen, in character, called too liberal.
“In terms of policies, I’d have to say the Republicans if they would only become a little less extreme. There are some real double standards, what people call genocide in my country, is called the judicial system in Texas.”
“But if it was money I was giving, then I give my full support to Mitt Romney. He has the makings of a great dicator. He incredibly wealthy but pays no taxes, and it’s not much of a leap to go from firing people to firing squads and from putting pets on the top of the car to putting political dissidents on top of them.”
Cohen, with his security guard revue for backup, rules his press conference.
Among the other horrifically offending highlights:
On U.S. filmmaking: “I love American films, particularly their fantasy films like ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Schindler’s List,’ ” he said, a jab at Holocaust deniers who often dominate Islamic dictator ships.
On the Democratic uprising in Syria:
“On behalf of my dear friend and doubles tennis partner, President Assad of Syria, I want to thank the United Nations for their brave inaction. … Thirteen months and still no Security Council resolution. You guys are amazing.”
On the large number of women in the press corps for the conference:
“It’s so charming that you have these female journalists. It’s like putting a dog on roller skates. It means nothing to them, but it’s adorable for us.”
On his pop culture tastes:
“I love the TV show ‘24,’ you have it here, but we play it backwards so it has a happy ending.”
On the value of dictatorships:
“In my country, women have the same rights as men, absolutely none.”
On his military uniform, supposedly made by disgraced Christian Dior designer John Galliano, who was charged with anti-Semitic hate speech in France:
“Well, I love Galliano. Say what you want about his avante-garde style and his fashion approach, but the guy does hate Jews.”
When an Israeli journalist stepped to the mic for the last question, Cohen demanded to see the man’s circumcision as proof of his Judaism.
“As long as you write good reviews, your families will be released,” he said before storming off the stage, his comely security guards in tow.
Photo Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images