On Monday, Gizmodo published leaked audio of a conversation between Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. During that discussion, Trump talked about increasing regulations on food imports. As Twitter user Michael Madowitz points out, to make his argument, Trump used an example of trade practices from Japan that sounds startlingly similar to a famous monologue from Days of Thunder, an action movie about racing cars.
During the conversation, which took place in mid-December, Trump talked about using safety regulations on food imports as a stick in trade negotiations with foreign countries:
TRUMP: If you look at Japan, what they do with food—they say it’s not clean enough, and you have to send it back, and by the time it comes back it’s all gone.
ROSS: Exactly. And we oughta let them know we’re gonna start playing the same game.
TRUMP: Well I think you let them know that we’re going to do that. Without saying that, you say, “We’re gonna inspect you so closely,” bomp bomp.
ROSS: Yeah. That’s the thing—not to say that it’s punitive, but in the interest of American safety.
In the monologue from Days of Thunder, NASCAR President Big John, played by Fred Thompson, lectures two upstart young racers by promising to do to them what Japan does to lettuce:
BIG JOHN: Now y’all heard of a “Japanese Inspection?” Japanese Inspection, you see, when the Japs get in a load of lettuce they’re not sure they wanna let in the country, why they’ll just let it sit there on the dock ‘til they get good and ready to look at. But then of course, it’s all gone rotten... ain’t nothing left to inspect. You see, lettuce is a perishable item... like you two monkeys.
Does it seem reasonable that Trump would have seen this movie? (Let’s momentarily set aside that New York wrote, in 1998 article entitled “Washington’s Sexual Awakening” that Trump’s special counselor and couch-warmer Kellyanne Conway was “romantically linked to Senator Fred Thompson” the film’s star, once upon a time.) Trump’s taste in movies skews to the action-packed punch-a-thons, as we know from a famous 1997 New Yorker profile of our now-president by Mark Singer:
We hadn’t been airborne long when Trump decided to watch a movie. He’d brought along “Michael,” a recent release, but twenty minutes after popping it into the VCR he got bored and switched to an old favorite, a Jean Claude Van Damme slugfest called “Bloodsport,” which he pronounced “an incredible, fantastic movie.” By assigning to his son the task of fast-forwarding through all the plot exposition—Trump’s goal being “to get this two-hour movie down to forty-five minutes”—he eliminated any lulls between the nose hammering, kidney tenderizing, and shin whacking. When a beefy bad guy who was about to squish a normal-sized good guy received a crippling blow to the scrotum, I laughed. “Admit it, you’re laughing!” Trump shouted. “You want to write that Donald Trump was loving this ridiculous Jean Claude Van Damme movie, but are you willing to put in there that you were loving it, too?”
It seems not totally outside the universe of possibility that he’s seen this movie. But we’ve emailed White House spokesperson Hope Hicks for comment to find out for sure one way or another whether the president has seen Days of Thunder or would be likely to quote from it, and will speedily update should we hear back.