“Saturday Night Live,” sensing perhaps the elevated tensions coursing through the capital, took aim at this political phenomenon with a parody on NBC host Chuck Todd and his Sunday show, “Meet the Press,” for the cold open.
The three guests?
A trio of Senate Republicans who have occupied particularly prominent positions in the public eye over the last couple of years: Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (played by a surprisingly convincing Beck Bennett), Sen. Susan Collins (Cecily Strong, who nailed Collins’ idiosyncratic style of speaking), and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (Kate McKinnon, the faux South Carolina drawl poured on thick).
Todd, played by Kyle Mooney, began with an issue that has bubbled up in the news lately — the lingering questions about a potential trade war with China.
All three of his guests, Todd said, had opposed tariffs in the past. Would they support them as part of the president’s agenda now?
“Well Chuck, there’s a simple answer to that,” McConnell said. “There was no collusion.”
“When you have a president who’s a financial genius and a business Jesus, like Donald Trump, you just got to trust him,” Graham said, a parody of the over the top obsequiousness some have ascribed to the senator of late. “This man has lost 100 times more money than I’ve ever made."
Todd noted that his guest had done a complete 180 from the independence he had appeared to flash during the presidential contest and early part of Trump’s presidency.
“Chuck, I am a man of conviction and principles,” Graham said. “Unless he can help me and then it’s, ‘new Lindsey, who’s this?’”
The segment also roasted Collins ruthlessly, skewering her as a woman who espouses beliefs that she simply cannot bear to stand up for in any substantive way.
“Chuck, I’ll be the first to admit that some of the things this administration is doing makes me want to shake my head vigorously and wag my finger once, perhaps twice,” she said at one point.
Todd tried suss out whether there was a limit to his guests’ willingness to back Trump. He asked, what if special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testified to Congress that the president had obstructed justice?
“I’d have to send a strongly worded email and send it straight to my drafts folder,” Collins said.
What if you found out Trump was a Muslim, Todd asked, an apparent jab about Islamophobia in the Republican Party.
“Do we still get those tax cuts?” Graham responded, to Todd’s affirmation. “Well then I guess it’s salaam alaikum, Mr. President!”
What if he divorced Melania? Married Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Todd asked. Slapped you?
Or gave out your personal cellphone number to thousands of strangers who then harassed you? Oh wait, he did that already with Graham.
Finally, exasperated by the line of questioning, Todd voiced the question point blank — is there absolutely anything Trump could do to lose your support?
His guests thought about the query.
“Let’s say hypothetically he got gay married,” McConnell said.
“Yeah, to the leader of ISIS,” Graham clarified.
“And they had matching diapers fashioned out of the original constitution,” Collins chimed in.
“Oh heck, who are we kidding?” McConnell said. “We’ll always be ride or die.”