“Saturday Night Live” didn’t begin with its familiar construction of Alec Baldwin impersonating President-elect Donald Trump, but the show still brought in some outside star power for its cold open.
In a sketch focusing on Trump’s controversial Cabinet picks, Bryan Cranston reprised his “Breaking Bad” character Walter White to play the incoming president’s nominee to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Walter is amazing, he came highly recommended by Steve Bannon,” Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon) says.
“Oh, yeah. Steve’s the best. We’ve had some times,” White said. “We met on the comments section on Breitbart.”
White, introduced as a high school science teacher from New Mexico, said he didn’t know Trump but, “I like his style. He acts first and then asks questions later. I also like that wall he wants to build. Nothing comes in from Mexico, meaning a lot less competition for the rest of us.”
Jake Tapper (Beck Bennett) asked, “You mean jobs?”
“Sure,” White slyly responded.
White said that “it’s time to make America cook again. We want to fill this nation with red, white and a whole lot of blue.”
Tapper listed off other real-life Trump picks, including Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. (Pruitt has sued the EPA on climate change several times).
“Scott Pruitt is excited for the job and ready to protect us all from the environment,” Conway says in the sketch.
“It’s almost like Mr. Trump appoints these people specifically to undermine the very agencies they head,” Tapper says. “Kellyanne, are these bad picks?”
“No Jake, they are not bad,” she answers. “They are alt-good.”
Unlike in previous weeks, Trump didn’t tweet his criticism of the show. We were falling into a pattern, with Baldwin appearing as Trump and then, inevitably, the real-life Trump publicly weighing in, calling SNL “biased, not unfunny.” He also called the show “unwatchable,” even as he continued to watch.
But this weekend’s show was different. Baldwin didn’t appear. And Trump didn’t criticize the show.
That doesn’t mean SNL didn’t tackle Trump and make biting jokes at his expense. Aside from the cold open, Weekend Update brought on McKinnon to play German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was 2015 Time’s “Person of the Year.” In 2016, Trump was named “Person of the Year.”
“It kind of undermines the honor for me,” McKinnon-as-Merkel said. “It’s like winning the Nobel for physics, and then the next year they give it to Hoobastank.”