John Oliver began Sunday’s edition of his show Last Week Tonight by addressing the firing of White House chief strategist (and alt-right overlord) Steve Bannon in the wake of a neo-Nazi march on Charlottesville that left one innocent woman—32-year-old Heather Heyer—dead.
“Yes, Steve Bannon is gone—presumably to spend more time sucking his own cock,” joked Oliver, repeating a line made famous by former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. “But he leaves behind a legacy defined by quasi-constitutional xenophobia, unfulfilled campaign promises, and a definitive answer to the question: What would happen if Martin Sheen ate nothing besides sea salts for a thousand years?”
But rather than dance any more on Bannon’s grave, Oliver chose to dedicate the lion’s share of his opening rant to President Trump’s Charlottesville presser on Tuesday—a head-scratching spectacle wherein the “leader of the free world” once again equated the actions of the neo-Nazis with those opposed to them, and even went as far as defending those on the white supremacist side.
“I think there is blame on both sides,” the president said, adding that there were “very fine people on both sides.”
“No they weren’t, and I’ll tell you why: because if you are marching with white nationalists you are, by definition, not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you’d have to say, ‘OK, I guess Malala sucks now,’” said Oliver.
And, while Trump’s Manufacturing Council—composed of numerous CEOs—disbanded in the wake of his Charlottesville presser, and all the members of the president’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned, there was still one place where POTUS could find the validation he so desperately craves: Fox News.
“He didn’t say there were ‘very good people’ among neo-Nazi protesters,” said Fox News’ Melissa Francis, denying reality. The commentator then went full sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion, offering up some heavy crocodile tears. “Look, can I tell you this? I am so uncomfortable having this conversation, and that’s what this woman said before this, because I know what is in my heart, and I know that I don’t think anyone is different, better or worse, based on the color of their skin, but I feel like there is nothing any of us can say right now without being judged!”
Cue Oliver: “Well, here’s a tip: If you’re getting emotionally overwhelmed and feeling judged for defending Trump in his Nazi supervisor phase, stop fucking doing it! It’s that simple. No one is making you do it. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, how did you end up making this about you?! That is almost impressive.”
The late-night host then aimed his ire at those in the Republican Party who failed to denounce Trump for qualifying neo-Nazis, from Mitch McConnell (who said nothing) to Paul Ryan (who condemned Nazis while not mentioning Trump).
“Come on, you can mention him. He’s not Voldemort. He’s just a terrifying entity who viciously attacks his enemies and judges people based on their birthright. You know what, I hear it now. I hear it now. I take that back,” joked Oliver.
“The fact is, after the president of the United States implied good people were marching with Nazis, the overwhelming majority of Republicans opted not to condemn him,” he continued. “By our count, out of 292 members of Congress, only around 54 could be bothered to unequivocally condemn Trump by name—and that is less than 20 percent. And the problem with not mentioning him is that suggests that he is somehow not a key part of the problem here.”
“So, in the words of the poet Beyoncé and the other ones: Say his name, say his name, go right onto Fox News, say Donald I condemn you if you ain’t runnin’ game.”