Call Tina Fey! Sarah Palin calls small cars “rice rockets”

The internet prompted Tina Fey to reiterate her iconic impression of Sarah Palin after the former vice presidential candidate used a derogatory term to refer to small cars that don’t use much gas.

Appearance on Fox News Prime Time by Jesse Watters On Thursday, to discuss rising gas prices amid the Ukraine invasion, Palin spoke about how gas prices affect more than just the price at the pump.

“And you’re talking about gas prices. It costs about $140 to fill up my truck. And I know that the Jen Puh-Sakis – whatever you say their name – will tell the world, ‘Just don’t do it then drive a big truck, Sarah,’ because they don’t understand that petroleum products are everywhere,” he said Palin.

“Every piece of plastic that we touch, everything that is transported from here to there. Everything is petroleum based and all they think is, ‘Well, you know, drive your little tiny rice rocket’ or something and don’t spend that much on gas. You have no idea, Jesse, what’s going on. And it’s a very scary place for us as Americans,” she continued.

Sarah Palin Tina Fey Rice Rocket
Sarah Palin, shown here holding a phone signed to a fan as “I’m not Tina Fey” in 2008, appeared on Fox News Thursday and called smaller, fuel-efficient cars “rice rockets.”
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

“Rice rocket” is an outdated slang term for Japanese-made vehicles and is viewed by many as racist. A similar term, “rice burner,” was coined during the Korean War, according to Canadian troops Far Eastern Tour: The Canadian Infantry in Korea, 1950-1953 by Brent Byron Watson to refer to the Korean laborers who provided food, water and supplies. Watson writes that workers disliked this term but accepted it as it replaced another term that used a racial slur.

In the 1970s, the term was used by US car fans to disparage Japanese-made cars – which typically had better fuel economy – during the energy crisis The New York Times. In particular, “rice rocket” originally referred to Japanese-made “superbikes” or racing motorcycles, although the term has been expanded as a general term for Asian-made vehicles. It is said that the term was even used uncritically in US publications up until 2002 Oxford English Dictionary.

After the clip was posted to Twitter, a common refrain was that people were excited to see how Fey took on the new material.

“Great to see Tina Fey again,” said Billy Corben, director of Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami, tweeted.

“All I could think while watching this was that Tina Fey nailed it,” user @GallopingMetal wrote.

“She’s just asking that Tina Fey come back to SNL, isn’t she…” wrote User Andrew Roslak.

User Colleen Matthews I Agree that she “thought I was watching SNL”.

“That’s all I see,” Twitter user @mommytalks2much dividedalongside a GIF of Fey as Palin making finger guns.

User Tim Johnson used a Tina Fey GIF even– but curiously one was taken 30 rocks rather than her Palin impression.

And user Kim Chernecky went the opposite waywith a GIF of Saturday night livebut not with Tina Fey.

news week has reached out to Tina Fey’s reps for comment. Call Tina Fey! Sarah Palin calls small cars “rice rockets”

Rick Schindler

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