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Watch John McCain's Take on Russia Become His Catchphrase Watch John McCain's Take on Russia Become His Catchphrase

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Politics

Watch John McCain's Take on Russia Become His Catchphrase

We’re going to call this one "McCaining."

photo of Marina Koren
April 22, 2014

McCain: Russia is a Country Masquerading as a Country

John McCain has been perhaps the most vocal senator about U.S. policy in Eastern Europe this year. And all that talking has generated a catchy one-liner to describe how Americans should view Russia.

"Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country," the Arizona Republican told Seth Meyers on his TV show Monday night.

 

This line has slowly become McCain's go-to description of Russia since the country's invasion of Ukraine began last month. The senator has used it to describe what he believes is the Russian economy's dependence on natural-gas and crude-oil exports.

The comparison originates in part from an op-ed McCain wrote in The New York Times two days before his CNN appearance, according to a McCain spokesman. The Russian president's "regime may appear imposing, but it is rotting inside," McCain said. "His Russia is not a great power on par with America. It is a gas station run by a corrupt, autocratic regime."

The concept of a masquerade entered the picture during McCain's appearance on CNN's State of the Union on March 16, following his trip to Ukraine. "Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country," he told anchor Candy Crowley. "It is a nation that's really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy, and so economic sanctions are important."

McCain's usage of the description took off from there, as a search of a media-tracking service shows:

March 26, on the Senate floor: "Russia is now a gas station masquerading as a country. And once we get [liquefied natural gas] and other energy to the European countries, interest will dramatically reduce and eventually eliminate Vladimir Putin's influence."

March 30, on Bloomberg's Political Capital: "You know, I've said—I thought it was a pretty good line—Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country."

April 13, on CBS's Face the Nation: "They have a very fragile economy. It is the 13th largest. It's a gas station masquerading as a country."

April 17, in Moldova's capital city of Chisinau: "Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country—and I apologize for that, because actually it's a mafia-run gas station masquerading as a country."

Monday night's mention is not likely to be the last. As the standoff between Russia and Ukraine continues, McCain, who just finished a tour of Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Moldova, will keep "backseat presidenting" the tenuous situation. In the meantime, we're going to call this one "McCaining."

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