Unlike most of late-night TV, John Oliver had to wait five days before he could tell us how he feels about President-elect Donald Trump. But boy, did he tell us how he feels.
“It’s true. That happened,” Oliver said Sunday while wrapping up the third season of his HBO show “Last Week Tonight.” “It turns out instead of showing our daughters that they could someday be president, America proved that no grandpa is too racist to become leader of the free world.”
The show played a clip of President Obama’s meeting with the president-elect at the White House, set to the “Curb Your Enthuasiam” theme.
“That is the new national anthem now,” Oliver said.”
Oliver’s most scathing remarks were directed at what he and others have called the “normalization” of Trump:
It’s important to remember that many people are happy to see him in office. Some are voters who think he’ll bring jobs back and shake up Washington. Others are happy simply because he isn’t Hillary Clinton. And others, of course, are Vladimir Putin and Scott Baio. But for the rest of us, we are faced with the same questions as a guy who woke up the day after a Vegas bachelor party, deep in the desert, naked, tied to a cactus and a dead clown. Namely, how the f— did we get here and what the f— do we do now? Because Donald Trump will be president and respecting democracy means accepting that. Although there is one sentiment that I would argue takes that a little too far.
Oliver flipped to clips of commentators urging people to give Trump a chance:
In the broadest sense, I get that impulse. Hope for the best in the face of very long odds. It’s like we’re on a plane and we just found out our pilot is a wombat. I don’t like this. I don’t understand how it happened, and I’m pretty sure we’re headed for disaster, but what the hell? Come on, Batty, prove me wrong! And the thing is optimism is nice if you can swing it, but you’ve got to be careful because it can feed into the normalization of Donald Trump — and he is not normal. He is abnormal. He’s a human “What is wrong with this picture?” He sticks out like a sore thumb, and frankly, he even looks like a sore thumb. So giving him a chance in the sense of not speaking out immediately against policies he’s proposed is dangerous. Because some of them are alarming.
Oliver used a CNN clip to show Trump’s campaign promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, force Mexico to build a border wall and to instate a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, among other sweeping pledges. He then added:
Stop, just stop. Because it sounds like you’re reading the to-do list on Satan’s refrigerator, which of course Satan no longer needs now that hell has frozen over. And while some are arguing that Trump might not have meant all those things, that leaves us with two devastating options: Either we just elected a president who didn’t mean a single word he said or we elected one who did. And it’s impossible to know which one.
Oliver concluded that “2016 has been the f—ing worst” because of the election and other events, including the Syrian refugee crisis and a string of high-profile celebrity deaths. He said it just didn’t feel appropriate to end the season the way the show normally does — clips of previous episodes and dancing in the studio. He introduced a video that featured people -— including celebrities such as Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Kathy Griffin, Larry Wilmore and Jeffrey Tambor — reflecting on the year (which isn’t even over, by the way). And in the end, Oliver stood defiantly in front of a 2016 installation that was set ablaze and appeared to explode.