hen Buffalo Beast reporter Ian Murphy prank called Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Wednesday, posing as conservative billionaire David Koch, he was taking part in a long, vibrant tradition of punking the politically powerful. From Hugo Chavez to the Queen of England, a host of prominent leaders have wound up on the receiving end of these middle school-esque pranks. Here are five memorable examples:
1. Sarah Palin called by "Nicolas Sarkozy"
Days before the 2008 election, a notorious Canadian DJ known for pranking celebrities placed a call to Sarah Palin. Posing as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, he engaged the vice presidential nominee in a six-minute conversation that frequently veered into the realm of absurdity. (Listen to a recording of the call.) The fake Sarkozy, speaking in an exaggerated French accent, touched on foreign policy ("from my house, I can see Belgium.") and a shared love for hunting ("I just love killing animals, take away life, that is so fun."). From Palin's office: "Governor Palin was mildly amused to learn that she had joined the ranks of heads of state, including President Sarkozy, and other celebrities in being targeted by these pranksters. C'est la vie."
2. Hugo Chavez called by "Fidel Castro"
In 2003, Miami DJs Enrique Santos and Joe Ferrero used past Fidel Castro audio clips to pose as the Cuban dictator in a call to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. (Listen to the call — which is in Spanish — here.) Since the duo only used the Castro audio they had on hand, the call was punctuated with misunderstandings. Here's a typical exchange. Chavez: ''Yes, brother, how's it going?'' Fake Castro: ''I'll do what you're asking me to." Chavez: ''I don't understand." Chavez soon grew suspicious, at which point Santos exploded in anger, calling the Venezuelan leader a "terrorist" and "murderer." Afteward, the DJs were astonished that their trick worked. "This was a conversation between two presidents," Ferrero said. "We're waiting for the men in black to show up."
3. Queen Elizabeth II called by Canadian PM "Jean Chretien"
In 1995, Montreal radio host Pierre Brassard posed as Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, and spoke with Queen Elizabeth II for 14 minutes. During the conversation, according to a New York Times report, "Mr. Brassard and the Queen discussed her Halloween plans and the Quebec vote on independence. The Queen said she supports Canadian unity." Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Queen had fielded Brassard's call and said the prank was a "regrettable incident."
4. Tony Blair called by opposition leader "William Hague"
In 1998, radio DJ Steve Penk managed to reach Britain's then-prime minister Tony Blair by pretending to be Conservative opposition leader William Hague. But Blair knew something wasn't right the moment his fake opponent called him the insufficiently formal "Tony." Later, when Penk referred to "that Cher exercise video you were interested in," Blair can be heard laughing in the background. In fact, according to the BBC, the prime minister "was reported to have enjoyed himself so much that he was a little disappointed when the conversation ended so quickly."
5. Jacques Chirac called by Canadian PM "Stephen Harper"
The same radio team that pranked Palin in 2008 previously set their sights on French leader Jacques Chirac. In 2006, Marc-Antoine Audette pretended to be newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, purportedly calling for an inaugural chat between the two leaders. After a fairly tame conversation — the fake Harper complained about media criticism, and then-president Chirac told him, "You can't prevent newspapers from saying any old stuff" — Audette revealed the hoax. Chirac laughed it off and assured the trickster that "my friendship for Canada and the new Conservative government is a real and unequivocal friendship."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why are so many elderly Asians killing themselves?
- Why ABC threw its Bachelor under the bus
- Why I'm sick and tired of seeing naked women on HBO
- Here's how Iran is covering Russia's invasion of Crimea
- Why Ted Cruz is the real-life Frank Underwood
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Here's proof that Justin Bieber is just as spoiled as you always thought
- 4 easy ways to resolve life's toughest questions
- Repealing ObamaCare would now mean kicking 4.2 million people off their new insurance plans
- Why is it so expensive to build a bridge in America?
Subscribe to the Week