Monday, January 30, 2006


Conan O'Brien enters Finnish election campaign!

Separated at birth This is without a doubt the funniest story I have heard in a long long time!

Conan O'Brien, the well known US talk show host, has decided to help out Finnish president Tarja Halonen in her bid to get re-elected - because she looks like him!

Right now Finns are voting in the second round of their presidential election and Halonen, the country's first female leader, has failed to win an outright majority in the first round. Her bid for a second six-year term is facing a strong challenge from the Conservative candidate Sauli Niinisto and opinion surveys say the race between President Halonen and Mr Niinisto is too close to call.

O'Brien has explained why he is supporting the current president.

"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."

Apparently O'Brien's support has not gone unnoticed in Finland. "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" airs five days a week on SUBTV, a Finnish cable channel, with a few days' delay and every time he mentions Finland or Halonen, local tabloids report it prominently.

"Of course, when she is mentioned so many times it's positive for our campaign," said Halonen's campaign manager, Markku Jaaskelainen.

Conan looks on...
The spitting image of Tarja Halonen!

Halonen's supporters quickly saw an opportunity, and her campaign started running real ads before O'Brien's show on Finnish TV.

Halonen was hugely popular even before O'Brien discovered their similarities, but Jaaskelainen said hits on the campaign Web site have quintupled partly because of O'Brien's shows.

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.

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 have reacted angrily to O'Brien's actions.

"He's just making fun of the whole election," said Harri Jaskari, campaign manager for Niinisto.

"If this decides the election, then we're in trouble. It gives a very poor picture of Finnish democracy."

In Helsinki, people did not seem to take offense at O'Brien's use of their presidential election for comic relief.

"I think it's quite funny," said Mia Myllymaki, a 28-year-old elementary school teacher. "Of course we are proud that Conan O'Brien talks about Finland and Finnish people. ... People in the USA don't even know where Finland is, so maybe it helps if he talks about it."

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.

NBC, which runs Conan's show in the United States, said the popular host is planning a trip to Finland in February. It was not clear whether he would meet with Halonen, 62, who apparently does not mind being compared to the 42-year-old O'Brien.

"She thinks that it's very nice that she looks the same as Conan O'Brien because Conan O'Brien is so much younger than she," said Jaaskelainen, the campaign manager.

I think this is hilarious! I've become a big fan of Conan O'Brien and I try to watch his show whenever I can. He's sort of like Ryan Tubridy...but with talent. He's also very proud of his Irish roots which is great.

You can watch Conan giving his support to Tarja Halonen in this clip here.

Personally I hope Tarja Halonen does get re-elected and I hope she meets with Conan in the February show. How funny would that be?!

Come on you Finns, do your duty! Re-elect Tarja Halonen!


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