This week, the Finnish tabloids and popular media are delighted because Conan O’ Brien mentioned the Finnish president, Tarja Halonen in his talk show. The Finns love getting mentioned in almost any context and are often found to be fiercely defending their rightful "ownership" of such concepts as meatballs and sauna (both of which are not Finnish inventions, but are certainly found to be well treasured and the best in Finland), or making a case for why the Finnish Lapland is the real home of Father Christmas and how Nokia really did start from a small Finnish company making rubber boots.
I say almost any context, but when the Conan O’Brien hates my homeland item in Late Night with Conan O’Brien finally featured Finland some time ago, the response from the Finnish public was overwhelming. Hundreds of letters and postcards landed at the NBC studios and this may have sealed the unlikely relationship between one small, cold country and the ginger-haired talk show host for good.
Conan revealed this image during the show:
Someone, somewhere must have observed the striking resemblance between Tarja and Conan. The Finnish general public speculates that sending actor Lauri Nurkse to the talk show audience was a clever ploy to plant pro-Tarja election propaganda to the proceedings. It appears to have worked: some polls suggest that Tarja’s popularity shot through the roof afer SubTV aired the show, early Wednesday morning Finnish time. Not entirely coincidentally, I’m sure, party political broadcasts for Tarja’s election campaign were shown during advert breaks.
The Finnish presidential election starts on the 15th of January 2006.