Quebec comedy duo caused friction between Palin, McCain

A prank phone call from a Montreal comedian posing as the French president fuelled tension between Sarah Palin and John McCain, according to reports in U.S. papers.

A prank phone call from a Montreal comedian posing as the French president fuelled tension between Sarah Palin and John McCain, according to reports in U.S. papers.

The Republicans were soundly defeated by Democrat Barack Obama and his vice-presidential running mate Joe Biden in Tuesday's election for U.S. president.

Palin made international headlines in the days leading to the vote, after she was "punked"  by Marc-Antoine Audette, a francophone comedian in Montreal who called her pretending to be French President Nicholas Sarkozy. 

The two spoke on the phone for several minutes about hunting, geopolitics, family and Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni, a conversation that made Palin sound naive and revealed her spotty knowledge of world affairs.

The call was broadcast around the world and Audette was toasted by network media in several countries.

McCain and his camp were not amused by the call, a Republican campaign adviser told the New York Times.

Palin's failure to inform McCain she had plans to talk with "Sarkozy" was a source of irritation for the failed presidential candidate, the report said.

McCain's top strategist, Steve Schmidt, organized a conference call after the prank call went public, demanding to know who would let that sort of thing happen without clearing it with senior advisers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

One of Palin's aides, Steve Biegun admitted to vetting the call without first speaking to McCain's advisers or the U.S. State Department.

"I was fooled," he told the L.A. Times in a report published Thursday.

"No one's going to beat me up more than I beat myself up for setting up the governor like that."

Audette and his partner in crime Sébastien Trudel have basked in the glory of international media spotlight since pulling off their coup. They've given interviews to the BBC and CBS and made weekend newspaper headlines across Europe.

The duo, known in Quebec as the "Masked Avengers", have earned a cult reputation for crank calling famous people and world leaders, including F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, Sarkozy and Britney Spears.

With files from the Canadian Press, Associated Press