UPDATED with video: John Oliver devoted the entirety of Last Week Tonight’s season finale to at look at the way President Donald Trump has violated the norms of our country. But first, he took a moment to mention, in a “lightning quick recap of the week,” Louis C.K.’s admission, a couple days earlier, of sexual misconduct – conduct which is completely indefensible and which inevitably resulted in the cancellation of his new film, Exhibit A If This Ever Goes To Trial.
Trump has been overseas all week which should have been relaxing for the rest of us, except Trump on Saturday night tweeted this:
“This would be the stupidest possible reason for all of us to die,” Oliver described.
Oliver walked us down some of Trump’s more memorable terrible moments of the past year, including creepily telling the French president’s wife she is in good shape, the State Department plugging one of his golf resorts on its official website, shoving aside the president of Montenegro at a NATO event because Trump saw a camera, and the speech in which he explained a new mine is taking out “clean coal meaning they’re taking out coal and they’re going to clean it.”
Even more concerning than the daily Trump-induced chaos are the norms his presidency has violated. Not the obvious ones, like never releasing his tax returns, or having his own daughter and son-in-law “work” in the White House.
The more lasting damage comes from the three techniques Trump uses to insulate himself from criticism:
Delegitimizing the media. This has been Trump’s thing for years, “the difference now is he is crying fake news as president,” and even tried to take credit for the term in an interview with Mike Huckabee.
“Whataboutism.” Aka, changing the subject to someone else’s perceived wrongdoing. It’s an old Soviet propaganda tool, Oliver said, lifting from a New York Times report, and it’s dangerous because it implies all actions, regardless of context, share a moral equivalency. It’s the depressingly effective tool Trump used in arguing about the neo-Nazi who mowed down a protester in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trolling. Trump is America’s first Troll President, Oliver said. Trump, way back in 2013, retweeted a claim he was “the most superior troll on the whole of twitter” calling it “a great compliment.”
Which, Oliver noted, it is not. “Because some time when you do something that makes a lot of people mad it’s because – and bear with me — you’re a d*ck.”
Trolling is not without political value, Oliver acknowledged, because many Trump supporters think he’s scored a major win when he does it.
It’s a level of discourse now being used by various Republican politicians, Oliver revealed in video clips, including, most recently, Roy Moore after a WaPo piece alleging the Senate candidate tried to initiate a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old when he was in his 30’s.
Tuesday election results must not make Trump opponents complacent, Oliver warned, calling it no guarantee the midterm elections will turn out same. Which is why, though his show is going on hiatus, he will continue to buy ad time on Fox & Friends in the Washington D.C. market, to air more Catheter Cowboy ads directed at Trump, who gets his morning briefing from the Fox News Channel program.
The first spot features Catheter Cowboy explaining to Trump that “clean coal” is a marketing term the coal industry came up with to describe a process that has had limited results at best. Also, Frederick Douglass is dead.
In other ads, Catheter Cowboy will explain to Trump that the U.S. Virgin Islands has a governor, not a president. In another ad, he will tell Trump, “just because Jared Kushner is smarter than you are does not mean he’s smart.”
Oliver wound up the show reminding viewers he bought five wax POTUS’s during the season, which set up its wrap: A Tom Hanks trailer, in which he marches purposefully into the commander-in-chief’s chambers, to tell him the world is in so much trouble “we need all of you,” so that all five Wax POTUS’s can make an appearance, and Hanks can say, “Gentlemen, let’s go wax these bastards.”