The redheaded late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien has been promoting President Tarja Halonen's re-election bid as part of a long-running joke about their supposed physical similarities.He should do more videos over here during our election.
"Why do I support Tarja Halonen? Because she's got the total package: a dynamic personality, a quick mind, and most importantly — my good looks," the comedian, whose show is broadcast on cable in Finland, said in a statement to The Associated Press.
In one show, O'Brien presented a mock ad for Halonen in which he and two Finns were discussing the election while fishing on a frozen lake.I am, but they aren't...and for good reason.
When they talk about rival candidate Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, a dead fish shoots out of the hole in the ice, prompting a joke about how the mere mention of his name causes fish to commit suicide.
"Fish recognize a bad leader," O'Brien says in broken Finnish to laughter from his studio crowd.
Halonen's opponents are not amused.
"He's just making fun of the whole election," said Harri Jaskari, campaign manager for former Finance Minister Sauli Niinisto. "If this decides the election, then we're in trouble. It gives a very poor picture of Finnish democracy."Does anyone know how to get hold of any clips? Using IE you can see the video from the NBC site, but no joy on downloading the clip.
Markus Haapamaki, Vanhanen's campaign manager, was less worried.
"It's not really affecting our campaign," he said. "Personally, I'm fed up with it, and it's continued too long to offer anything interesting."
In Helsinki, people did not seem to take offense at O'Brien's use of their presidential election for comic relief. ... Anu Linnus, a 22-year-old economics student, said O'Brien's backing could indirectly affect the election.
"I don't think people are going to vote for Tarja because she's on the show, but it helps her image," she said.
Polls showed Halonen with a solid lead on the eve of the election, but it was not clear whether she would get the more than 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.