British Prime Minister David Cameron is in New York to address the U.N.'s General Assembly, and dropped by the Late Show last night to chat with David Letterman.
It probably didn't go quite as Cameron expected. After taking up serious topics like British participation in the euro, gun control and relations with American politicians, Letterman asked, 'Do you mind if I ask you a lot of dumb American questions?" After a laugh, Cameron smiled, "Fire away". Letterman obliged, posing obscure British history questions, a few of which Cameron fumbled.
Who wrote Rule Brittania? What do the Latin words Magna Carta actually mean? Cameron, wearing a tight smile, told Letterman, "you're testing me". Letterman observed, "Boy, it would be good if you knew this!"
Cameron correctly repeated the signing year of the Magna Carta - 1215, and gave a short explanation of its enumeration of rights.
British media wondered if Cameron's real purpose was to equal or even outshine flamboyant London mayor Boris Johnson, a potential who appeared on Letterman's show in June. Here's his CBS vid.
The Daily Mail said Cameron was 'mildly broiled' during his appearance, while the Guardian called it 'Cameron v Letterman: a zero-sum equation'.
Should the Prime Minister wish to improve his history knowledge, the BBC has this practice test for those seeking British citizenship. It includes questions like "Almost 60m people live in the UK. By what factor do the native-born English outnumber their Scots or Welsh neighbors?" (A: By nine to one). Or this: "If you spill someone's pint in the pub (we're not making this up)...what usually happens next?" (A: You would offer to buy the person another pint.)