Jan. 16, 2006— -- Conan O'Brien has had a running joke for weeks now about Finland. Yesterday was the presidential election in that country. Bizarrely, there's a chance O'Brien may have actually swayed the vote.
"I'm a golden god in Finland," he said on his "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" on NBC. It's partially true. O'Brien has been a big hit in Finland because he has declared that he looks like Finland's president, Tarja Halonen. "I like looking like the president of a country. Even if it's a woman."
The show airs in Finland so when he heard the female version of himself was running for re-election, he pitched in with some phony campaign commercials, picking on the opponents.
"Would fish be as abundant if Sauli Ninisto became president?" he asked in Finnish. Then a fish jumped out of the water where O'Brien and two others were ice fishing. "Look, just hearing the name Matti Vanhanen causes fish to take their own lives."
"His sense of humor matches ours," said Mika Hentunen, MTV3 Finland correspondent.
Halonen embraced O'Brien's jokes. She started running real campaign ads right before O'Brien's show.
"Clearly she is able to take a joke, which is more then most American politicians could," said Ana Marie Cox, author of "Dog Days" and former editor of the politics blog Wonkette.
O'Brien has been invited to visit Turku, the country's third-largest city. He said he is planning a trip.
As popular as he has become in Finland, it is hard to say if O'Brien will sway the results. The president is currently embarking on a runoff election. The rules in Finland, which has a population about the size of Minnesota, say that in order to win the presidency, the candidate has to win more than 50 percent of the vote. Hanolen was just shy of the mark -- so now O'Brien will have two more weeks until the runoff to make jokes.