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No, John Kerry has not invented a new country

John Kerry, we're told, has committed his "first gaffe" as secretary of state. In a slip of the tongue ahead of his overseas trip this week, Kerry appeared to confuse the Central Asian nations of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, blurting out what the Global Post heard as "Kyrzakhstan." Today, news outlets from the U.S. to the U.K. to Russia are ribbing the newly minted State Department chief for inventing a new country.

Here's the thing -- listen to the video closely, and it sounds more like Kerry simply mixed up the "z" and the "g," saying something like "Kyrzygstan." Is that really what qualifies as a gaffe these days? Especially when compared to George W. Bush not knowing the name of Pakistan's top general, or a U.S. presidential candidate deliberately and dismissively mangling another country's name? If Kerry's critics want something to latch onto, they might want to focus on the difficulties he's having in securing a meeting with Syrian opposition leaders.

Even if Kerry mixed up Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, it's worth noting that he wouldn't be alone. West Wing fans may remember that Sam Seaborn stumbled into a similar trap when he tried to impress a newspaper columnist by spouting off about nuclear weapons in Kyrgyzstan. "There are barely pots and pans in Kyrgyzstan," he ruefully observes once the mistake dawns on him (starts at 4:00):

 

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Psy performs at South Korean inauguration

By all accounts, the inauguration of South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday was a stately affair -- that is, until the rapper Psy took the stage. "I know this is a very formal event, but if you could please stand up and join me for the horse dance, it would be great," the South Korean artist told the crowd (and all we got was a lip-sync controversy?). The Guardian is characterizing the performance as a "family-friendly version" of Gangnam Style. Here's the video:

During the South Korean presidential election, Psy didn't publicly support any candidate and refused to allow the contenders to adopt Gangnam Style as their campaign anthem. But that didn't stop Park from galloping along to the hit song. As the Hollywood Reporter noted at the time of her election, the South Korean leader had "been spotted more than once doing the famous 'horse dance.'"

JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images