Prominent Americans have unleashed a tidal wave of apologies to Australians after US president Donald Trump’s “tough” phone call with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refugee deal.
A rock star, an Oscar winner, a Seinfeld star and a former presidential nominee all apologised to Australians for Mr Trump’s behaviour, which some suggested could “screw up” the long-standing alliance between the two countries.
Posting on Twitter after a Thursday phone call with Mr Turnbull, Mr Trump described an agreement made by the Obama administration to accept 1250 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru as “a dumb deal”.
The Washington Post reported Mr Trump abruptly ended the 25-minute conversation with the Australian PM after accusing Mr Turnbull of trying to export the “next Boston bombers”.
“Do you believe it?” Mr Trump tweeted.
“The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”
As soon as the news broke, US celebrities began sharing their sympathy with those Down Under, with visiting rocker Bruce Springsteen one of the first to speak out.
“We stand before you embarrassed Americans,” Springsteen told the crowd at a Melbourne performance on his Australia and New Zealand tour with the E Street Band.
“We’re going to use this to send a letter back home,” he added, launching into a cover of the The Orlons’ 1962 song, Don’t Hang Up.
Springsteen’s lead guitarist Stevie Van Zandt also tweeted his apologies, describing Australia as “one of the USA’s best friends and closest allies”.
Australia is, was, and always will be one of the USA's best friends and closest allies. Apologies for today's temporary embarrassment.
— Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) February 2, 2017
Although Mr Trump insisted he had “a lot of respect for Australia”, US senator and former Republican nominee John McCain went into damage control on Friday (AEDT), calling Australia’s ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, in an attempt to smooth things over.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) February 2, 2017
Soon after, Mr Hockey attended a meeting at the White House, but details of the meeting have not yet been revealed.
Entertainment icon Cher said Mr Trump had “insulted” Australia and argued former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger would make for a better president after he joked on Twitter they should swap jobs.
TRUMP INSULTS AUSTRALIA, THREATENS MILITARY ACTION AGAINST MEXICO,CHALLENGES CHINA,4GIVES RUSSA & IRANS CLOSE TIES.BETTER ARNOLD THAN TRUMP
— Cher (@cher) February 2, 2017
“Hey Donald, I have a great idea — why don’t we switch jobs?” Mr Schwarzenegger said in a Twitter video after the president said he was “a disaster” hosting Celebrity Apprentice.
“You take over TV, because you’re such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job” so “people can finally sleep comfortably again”.
The National Prayer Breakfast? pic.twitter.com/KYUqEZbJIE
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) February 2, 2017
Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander joined the chorus of Americans attempting to maintain ties with Australia, tweeting: “Sorry Australia. I adore you.”
Sorry Australia. I adore you.
— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) February 2, 2017
Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette apologised to both Australia and Mexico, after Mr Trump also spoke to Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday.
While Mr Trump is not known to have said anything particularly inflammatory to Mr Peña Nieto, it is believed he offered US military assistance to help Mexico deal with “tough hombres”.
“You have no idea how sorry I am,” tweeted Arquette, who starred in the critically acclaimed Boyhood.
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) February 2, 2017
Novelist Stephen King called the whole situation a “bummer” and labelled Mr Trump “an impulsive, bad-tempered idiot”.
Today's bummer: Trump screws up our relationship with Australia, a long-time ally. Our president is an impulsive, bad-tempered idiot.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) February 2, 2017
Patton Oswalt, an actor and comedian who has 3.39 million Twitter followers, tweeted that Mr Trump had just “flushed our relationship with Australia counterclockwise down the toilet”.
Can't believe Trump just flushed our relationship with Australia counterclockwise down the toilet.
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 2, 2017
Comedian Hal Rudnick apologised for “the orange man”.
“If it’s any consolation, we’re stuck with him 24/7,” he joked.
Hey Australia, sorry about the orange man. If it's any consolation, we're stuck with him 24/7.
— hal rudnick (@halrudnick) February 2, 2017
One celebrity who didn’t jump on the criticism bandwagon was Matthew McConaughey, who earlier in the week argued Americans should “embrace” Mr Trump as President.
“He’s our president,” the actor said in an interview on The Andrew Marr Show.
“It’s very dynamic and as divisive of an inauguration and time that we’ve ever had. At the same time, it’s time for us to embrace, shake hands with this fact, and be constructive with him over the next four years.”
— The Andrew Marr Show (@MarrShow) January 29, 2017
‘Prime Minister Trumble’ adds insult to injury
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer appeared to mispronounce Malcolm Turnbull’s name — twice — during a press conference in which he stressed Donald Trump’s “tremendous respect” for the Australian PM.
Speaking about the reportedly tense phone call between the two leaders, Mr Spicer appeared to say Trumble instead of Turnbull.
“The President had a very cordial conversation with Prime Minister Trumble, where they went through an extensive discussion of this deal,” Mr Spicer told reporters.
After talking about how “disappointed” Mr Trump was with the refugee resettlement deal struck with the Obama administration, Mr Spicer appeared to mispronounce the name again.
“So he has ensured that while he has respect for the Australian people, respect for Prime Minister Trumble, that we do not pose a threat to the United States of America,” he said.
Trumble has since become a trending topic on Twitter, with some fans of “Prime Minister Trumble” — and even a Malcolm Trumble parody account — emerging among the criticism of Mr Spicer.
But, some have also argued it could have just been a slip of the tongue. So what do you think: did he say Trumble or Turnbull?
Social media, naturally, was quick to leap on the apparent gaffe.
I'd like to say I really enjoyed my extremely long phone call with President Turnip.
— Malcolm Trumble (@TrumbleMalcolm) February 2, 2017
FAKE NEWS: Media trying to START WARS! Esteemed Diplomat Trump is GREAT FRIENDS with AUSTRIAN PRIME MINISTER TRUMBLE! Vienna is great city! pic.twitter.com/3KQdNuUnbS
— White House News (@truewhitehouse) February 2, 2017
— Peter Helliar (@pjhelliar) February 2, 2017