It has been a long three months since John Oliver aired his post-election season finale of HBO’s Last Week Tonight. When we last saw Oliver, just five days after Donald Trump won the White House, he urged his liberal viewers not to run for the hills but instead “stay here and fight” the threats posed by the new administration.
He had no idea how fast it would get so bad. Ahead of his 2017 season premiere this coming Sunday, Oliver sat down with his fellow Daily Show alum Stephen Colbert to talk about what he missed over these past few months.
When Colbert began by joking that “not a lot has happened” since his guest was last on the air, Oliver joked that it’s mostly been “cosmetic differences,” meaning “flames and the fact America is in it.” Until Inauguration Day, Oliver described his general feeling as one of “being tied to a train track, watching the train coming.” And then, Trump getting sworn in was “the train hitting you and you’re thinking, ‘Yup, that felt pretty much how I thought it was going to feel.’”
On Steve Bannon, the “real president” of the United States, Oliver said, “he’s a terrifying individual.” As for Betsy DeVos, who was confirmed as education secretary earlier in the day, he joked, “I actually think she might and should serve as an inspiration to school kids in America, because she shows that they could be secretary of education one day. In fact, not just one day, now. They could do it now. They’re about as well qualified now as she is. They’ve spent arguably longer in a public school.”
During his final show of last year, Oliver called on Americans not to accept Trump as the “new normal.” Three months later, he said he thinks people are still “feeling viscerally repelled” by the president’s actions. But at the same time, he added, “It’s exhausting. It feels like his Inauguration Day was 114 years ago.”
When Colbert reminded him that it’s been just over two weeks, Oliver said, “We have a long way to go.” When the host said we have at least four years to look forward to, he asked, “Why not 12? Words don’t mean anything anymore, why would numbers?”
Finally, Colbert asked Oliver to share his thoughts on Trump’s travel ban, given that he himself is a green-card holder and his wife served as a U.S. Army medic in Iraq.
“I am slightly concerned. I have an American wife and an American son now, but who knows what’s enough?” Oliver asked. “Having a green card used to be enough, and yet what we saw with that executive order on immigration, that debacle, things are not what they were supposed to be.”
“We held up translators, Afghan and Iraqi translators at the border who have bled for a country they’ve never visited, have sacrificed family members for this country,” he continued. “This president has done neither of those things, so it’s a little hard to swallow him telling people whether they should be a benefit to America or not.”