John Oliver's Best Takedowns of Donald Trump
John Oliver's Take on Donald Trump
Donald Trump has been a singular source of fascination for late-night TV hosts throughout this election cycle, but none have delivered better insults of the Republican presidential candidate than John Oliver. The Last Week Tonight host has hit Trump with every tool at his disposal: exhaustive research, reality-bending pranks, sincere outrage, and fiery British denunciations. Here are the best hits from Oliver's 2016 coverage of the former Celebrity Apprentice host.
'Something That Gives the Passing Appearance of Wealth But is Actually Just a Cheap Tool'
The first round in John Oliver vs. Donald Trump: The grandaddy of all Trump takedowns. Oliver famously tried to avoid discussing Donald Trump this election in favor of more serious structural issues like voting laws, but eventually Trump's dominance in the Republican primaries made this abstinence impossible. When Oliver finally dedicated a monologue to Trump, he came prepared with research into Trump's business practices and public statements, in order to refute supporters' claims that the Republican candidate had good business experience or "tells it like it is." Combining these refutations with information about Trump's family background, Oliver suggested referring to Trump as his family's pre-immigrant name "Drumpf" in order to combat the dominance of the Trump brand (it doubled as a response to Trump referring to Oliver's former boss Jon Stewart as "Jonathan Leibowitz"). He even made a limited run of parody Make Donald Drumpf Again hats so hot even Jay Z wanted one.
'He Sounds Like He's About to Announce the First Annual Hunger Games'
This year's Republican National Convention in Cleveland didn't quite live up to apocalyptic predictions, but it was still full of surprises. For one thing, Donald Trump's acceptance speech claimed crime rates were much higher than they actually are, but nevertheless advocated anti-crime policies that, as Oliver noted, sounded like a Hunger Games announcer. That same week, the New York Times reported that Trump's son had offered John Kasich the vice presidential nomination with promise of increased power over foreign and domestic policy. "The only thing that's not foreign policy or domestic policy is space policy, which leads me to believe that Trump's entire goal is to eventually own the moon," Oliver observed.
'A Damaged, Sociopathic Narcissist'
By the time of the Democratic National Convention, Donald Trump had already racked up a number of controversial offenses: Refusing to release his tax returns, lying about getting a letter from the NFL, and calling on Russian hackers to target his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. His attacks against the Khan family, though, pushed John Oliver over the edge. After Khizr Khan spoke at the DNC about his late soldier son and attacked Trump for his lack of experience with sacrifice, Trump fired back at Khizr and his wife Ghazala. Responding to Trump's comments, Oliver seemed on the verge of tears of rage: "Incredibly, we may be on the brink of electing such a damaged, sociopathic narcissist that the simple presidential duty of comforting the families of fallen soldiers may actually be beyond his capabilities. And I genuinely didn't think that was a part of the job someone could be bad at."
'The Douche Bag's Excuse'
Donald Trump has made a lot of false or exaggerated claims this election, but declaring President Barack Obama to be the literal founder of ISIS might take the cake. The craziest thing about it was how Trump kept flip-flopping back and forth about the sincerity of the claim in the following days. At first he tried to say he was being sarcastic, which John Oliver referred to as "a bulls--t excuse. It's the douche bag's apology." Later, though, Trump even walked back that excuse, prompting pure incredulity from Oliver: "You know that riddle? Where there are two people, one who always lies and one who always tells the truth? Donald Trump is both of those at once."
'Racist Scarecrow Stuffed With Scrunched-Up Copies of Juggs Magazine'
Donald Trump is the most unfavorable presidential candidate in modern political history, but Hillary Clinton is only marginally more popular. Nevertheless, there is a world of difference between them. In John Oliver's words, Trump often seems like "an unambiguously racist scarecrow stuffed with scrunched-up copies of Juggs magazine" compared to Clinton. To further prove his point, Oliver compared political scandals to raisins in a cookie, since they're both things people hate. But while Clinton's ethical problems amount to an average chocolate-chip raisin cookie, Oliver demonstrated Trump's could only be represented by a physical cascade of falling raisins.
'That's Rock Bottom'
Donald Trump's modus operandi throughout this election has seemingly been to keep spouting outlandish rhetoric, so every controversy is overshadowed by the next. Nevertheless, John Oliver clearly thought that Trump's attacks on former Miss Universe contestant Alicia Machado were a new low. Trump infamously tweeted a string of angry attacks at 3 a.m. on Sep. 30 and urged followers to "check out" a non-existent sex tape supposedly featuring Machado. In response, Oliver told his viewers to look up in the sky: "See that? Way up there, above the clouds? That's rock bottom, and we are currently way down here."
'A Spray-Tanned Furby Eating KFC and Screaming at a Gold Star Family'
Hilariously, and perhaps inevitably, John Oliver's pronouncement that Donald Trump's comments about Alicia Machado represented rock bottom for this election cycle were immediately overruled a week later. The explosive tape of Trump's graphic conversation about women with Billy Bush prompted Oliver to declare "f--k Billy Bush," and Corey Lewandowski and Paul Ryan's half-hearted defenses of Trump prompted more outrage. Trump's apology speech, however, was laughable for Oliver, especially the part about how "these words don't reflect who I am." Oliver found this absurd: "They could not capture his essence more if they were spoken by a spray-tanned Furby eating KFC and screaming at a Gold Star family."
'Full-On Conspiracy Theorist'
In the wake of multiple sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump, John Oliver opened his Oct. 16 show by noting that the Republican candidate is only "one unearthed '90s-era TeenPeople interview away from being on a sex offender registry." Trump, for his part, reacted to flagging poll numbers by turning to conspiracy theories about a rigged election and secret meetings between Hillary Clinton and international banks. He began talking about himself as if he was some martyred Christ figure, but in Oliver's words, "The only difference is with Christ we think, 'What would Jesus do?' And with Trump it's more 'Jesus, what the f--k did you just do?'"
'A President Capable Of Standing In The Rain And Saying It Was A Sunny Day'
John Oliver's brand of thoroughly reported fact-based comedy was a perfect match for the technocratic Obama era. It faces a somewhat different challenge with President Trump's embrace of "alternative facts." Oliver ran through some of Trump's more famous lies before revealing that his show had bought ads to run on cable news in D.C. to inform the president about subjects like the nuclear triad.