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Senator Collins Oil Spill Interview - The Front Fell Off

Summary:
Email forward claims that an attached video shows an actual news interview in which Australian Senator Collins discusses a major oil spill that occurred in 2007 (Full commentary below).



Status:
False

Example:(Submitted, October 2008)
Subject: THE FRONT FELL OFF

On August 19th 2007, an oil tanker off the coast of Australia split in two, dumping 20,000 tons of crude oil.

Senator Collins, a member of the Australian Parliament, appeared on a TV news program to reassure the Australian public.

This actual interview is so funny, you'd swear it was a Saturday Night Live or Monty Python skit.

Enjoy!

Click to view video




Commentary:
According to this email forward, an accompanying video shows a news interview in which Australian Senator Collins talks about a recent oil tanker mishap off the coast of Australia in which "the front fell off" the ship spilling 20,000 tons of crude oil into the ocean. The "senator's" comments are so absurd that the interview is actually extremely funny. The message apparently intends the viewer to believe that this humour is unintentional and simply the result of yet another politician making a fool of himself in the public eye. However, in spite of the claim in the message, the video is not an "actual interview". It is in fact a satirical mock interview that fully intends to be funny.

The video does not depict the real Senator Collins or any other actual government spokesperson. Instead it is one episode of a long running humour segment delivered by Australian comedians John Clarke and Bryan Dawe. The "Front Fell Off" episode first aired back in 1991. For a number of years, the duo has delivered their bitingly satirical take on Australian politics and society first on radio and later in regular TV segments. They currently appear on ABC current affairs program, The 7.30 Report. Clarke has played a variety of "newsworthy" Australians including prime ministers and other politicians and prominent business leaders while Dawe plays his hapless interviewer. Information on Clarke's website explains the pair's approach:
In the interviews, John makes no attempt to look or sound like the person he is pretending to be, but deals with matters as he sees fit. Bryan persists with dignity and strives for understanding.
Clarke and Dawe are well known in Australia, and, when the "interviews" are aired in their original context, most viewers would very quickly realise that they are only for entertainment and feature an actor just pretending to be the high-profile "interviewee" named in the episode.

However, in this case, it appears that some unknown prankster has removed the segment from its original setting and tacked on title and ending captions that imply that it shows a genuine news interview with the real Senator Collins. Senator Bob Collins did serve as Federal Minister for Shipping between 1990 and 1992 but he never gave an interview even remotely resembling the one portrayed in the comedy piece. Collins died in September 2007. Moreover, the oil spill incident lampooned in the Clarke & Dawe segment occurred in 1991 not 2007 as suggested in the email.

The original and unaltered version of Clarke & Dawe's "The Front Fell Off" episode is available on Clarke's website.

References:
Mr John Clarke
Bryan Dawe
Special Feature: John Clarke and Bryan Dawe
Ex-MP dies under cloud of charges
Kirki, Western Australia, 21 July 1991
The Front Fell Off 1991


Last updated: 7th October 2008
First published: 7th October 2008

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen