The video: Chalk up another manly wilderness media moment for Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Riding in the bow of a small motorboat off Russia's far eastern coast this Wednesday, Putin fired four darts from a crossbow at a gray whale as part of an effort to collect skin samples for scientific research. "I hit it at the fourth try!" he exclaimed.
The reaction: Having recently appeared in front of cameras beside a polar bear, a Siberian tiger, a leopard, and now a whale, Putin is emerging as "the Steve Irwin of world leaders," says Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy. The stunts are supposed to show the Russian public that Putin is more equipped than President Dmitry Medvedev to "look after Russia, its people and environment," says David Nowak in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. If so, writes Brett Smiley on MTV.com, it's not working; he's "trying too hard to be a badass." Watch Putin in action here: