An April Fool’s Day Alaska gag is trending on Bing at the moment, likely because Bing wrote the prank. Users on the Bing home page are seeing the keyword phrase “I can see Wasilla,” and when clicking on the item today, are getting a news result that says Russia has annexed Alaska from the United States, along with a spurious quote from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to Bing News on April 1, the following news article tease is posted:
Citing "a threatening wave of American nationalism," Russia has annexed Alaska. "It makes sense," said a bare-chested Vladimir Putin. "I mean, I can see Wasilla from my house."
When we click on the Russia takes back Alaska subhead, we are taken to the general Bing search results for April Fool’s Day, with no mention of any article of a boasting Putin or the fact his country has taken possession of our northernmost state.
Wasilla, by the way, is an actual Alaskan city, the sixth largest, and is located on the northern cost of the Gulf of Alaska. Can Putin really see that far? Perhaps former Alaska governor Sarah Palin could weigh in on that.
Palin of course trotted on the infamous non-quote: “I can see Alaska from my house,” in response to a question about her experience in dealing with foreign relations.
Actually, comedian Tina Fey and her lovable Ms. Palin impersonation on Saturday Night Live is credited with the hilarious phrase, which is now widely attributed to Palin.
What Palin actually said, in a 2008 interview with Charles Gibson from ABC News, was: “They're our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.”
And yes – you can see Russian soil from Alaska. Says Slate.com:
Russia and Alaska are divided by the Bering Strait, which is about 55 miles at its narrowest point. In the middle of the Bering Strait are two small, sparsely populated islands: Big Diomede, which sits in Russian territory, and Little Diomede, which is part of the United States. At their closest, these two islands are a little less than two and a half miles apart, which means that, on a clear day, you can definitely see one from the other.
As to the amount of foreign policy experience one could gain from that bit of geography trivia, well, that’s debatable.
But if Putin can see Wasilla, then we’re convinced Alaskans are staring right back, and wondering perhaps why Putin is shirtless, as the prank quote claims.