Lobbyists Get $1.5 Million For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

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British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen pretty much single-handedly ruined Kazakhstan’s international image with his movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. In an early sequence the title character takes the viewer around his home village of Kuzcek and in short order smooches his sister (“Number 4 prostitute in whole of Kazakhstan!”), introduces his “retard” brother Bilo, who lives in a cage, drinks horse urine, and cheerfully points out the “town rapist,” Urkin. After departing the village in a car drawn by a horse, Borat travels to the United States, where, among other things, he serenades drinkers in an Arizona bar with a song titled “In My Country, We Have Problem (Throw the Jew Down the Well!)” He also displays truly atrocious taste in swimwear.

Now, the government of Kazakhstan has signed on with Washington lobbying outfit Policy Impact Communications to, among other things, counter the “unsophisticated” image created by the Borat movie, the firm’s CEO told The Hill. (The dozen lobbyists on the Kazakhstan account will also try to get the country into the World Trade Organization, cozy up to think tanks, reach out to bloggers and place positive op-eds in “prestige media.”)

Maybe Austria should be beefing up its DC presence too?

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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