John Oliver ended Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, the show’s final episode before a month-long hiatus, with a plea to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to “drop out” of the race.
Calling Trump a “racist voodoo doll made of discarded cat hair,” Oliver looked back at another contentious week for the candidate, which included the resignation of his campaign manager Paul Manafort. “This feels like a fork in the road for Trump. He’s either hitting bottom, from which he’ll rebound to victory, or it’s beginning of the end,” Oliver said, adding, “losing would be disastrous” for Trump “because his entire brand is built around not doing that.”
But the HBO host claimed Trump’s other option, a comeback victory that lands the former reality TV star in the White House, would be “even worse” for the GOP nominee. “Then he actually has to run the country. That means living in government housing, conversing with fully clothed women, and traveling in a plane that doesn’t even have his name on it,” Oliver joked.
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“It seems that you have two really bad options here,” Oliver continued. “If you keep going, you’re going to spend the next 11 weeks ramping up hatred in speeches, injecting poison into the American bloodstream that will take generations to remove, and denying the country the contest of ideas that a presidential campaign should actually be. And after that, you’re either going to win or you’re going to lose, and I think both of those scenarios end pretty badly for you. Which is why, Mr. Trump … I would like to propose to you a third option. That is, drop out. Simply drop out, and tell America this entire candidacy was a stunt. A satire designed to expose the flaws in the system.”
From there, Oliver played clips of Trump inadvertently highlighting issues with campaign finance, party loyalty, and the media. According to Oliver, perhaps Trump’s biggest success was exposing the “flaws in us.”
“Just think about how triumphant it would feel to say on national television, ‘I openly ran on a platform of impossibly ignorant proposals steeped in racial bigotry, and nobody stopped me. In fact, you embraced me for it,'” Oliver said. “‘What the f— was that about?'”
He added, “If you drop out in order to teach America a lesson, you would not be a loser, you would be a legend.”
While the prospect of Trump dropping out of the election is far-fetched, Oliver said he found precedent for Trump’s candidacy in a children’s book: The Kid Who Ran for President by Dan Gutman. In that novel, published in 1996, a 12-year-old boy runs for president and curries favor with voters by chasing the lowest common denominator (including a ban on homework nationwide, which Oliver compared to Trump’s promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico). The kid ends up winning the election, and then promptly resigns with a speech Oliver had Will Arnett read for maximum effect.
“I have a question for the grown-ups of America… Are you out of your minds? Are you expecting me to enforce the Constitution? I’ve never even read it,” Arnett read. “I was absent from school that day. You want me as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces? What if somebody attacked the United States? Would you really want me in charge? America must be in really bad shape if you elected me president. You better get it together and find some really qualified people to run this country, or we’ll all be in big trouble.”
“That is a perfectly Trumpian address,” Oliver said. “It’s a negation of responsibility, an implication of everyone else’s stupidity, and it’s a threat. And if you steal it, you’ll even be passing off someone else’s speech as your own, which I know is kind of a thing for your campaign.” He then showed a photo of Trump’s wife Melania, who plagiarized a Michelle Obama speech during the Republican National Convention back in July.
Oliver ended his segment on Trump by inviting the candidate on Last Week Tonight to read the The Kid Who Ran For President speech.
“Back in February, I stood here and called you a two-bit bullsh– artist, conning America to help himself,” Oliver said. Please, prove me wrong and reveal yourself to be a three-bit bullsh– artist, conning America to help America.”