David Letterman is joking around with Dr. Phil tonight, and in the preview clip here, he asks the would-be wise doctor about Donald Trump. Dr. Phil fumfers around a bit, but Dave is really setting up to advance his own theory about Trump: that he’s carried his campaign against President Obama into ugly territory.

Letterman dismisses the birther idiocy out of hand, but what bothers the host is Trump’s questions about how Obama got into Harvard, how he wrote his memoirs. “It smacks of racism,” says Letterman.

“Nobody should be amused by that tactic,” says Letterman. Dr. Phil hastens to say he doesn’t think Trump “has a racist bone in his body … he just doesn’t think things through.”

Letterman suggests that if he comes back to Late Show — “and I’m not sure that we want him back” — Trump “ought to be prepared to apologize.”

Once again, it’s moments like these, when Letterman abandons the comfy little format of cozying up to the guests and engages with a strong opinion, that he proves all over again why he’s the late-night MVP.

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