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April 10, 2017

"There is understandable concern at the moment about the personalities harming our democracy, but tonight let's talk about one of the major structural problems," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, and that's the closest he got to mentioning President Trump. Democrats in particular love to complain about gerrymandering, but it is "a real problem," Oliver said. He showed how more than 40 percent of voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania chose a Democrat in 2014, and Democrats won only a small fraction of the seats.

Thanks to technology, "gerrymandering has become a very precise science — and interestingly, it is one of the few remaining types of science in which the Republican Party currently believes," Oliver quipped, noting that Democrats use the technique, too. Redrawing electoral boundaries is actually necessary as populations change, but in 37 states, he noted, the redrawing of those lines every 10 years is controlled by the state legislature, whose members have a "pretty clear vested interest" in protecting their seats and party power.

Oliver explained two techniques, packing and cracking, and how racial gerrymandering is illegal but partisan redistricting is fine. In 2010, Republicans poured $30 million into state-level races, won big, redrew the maps to their favor, and in 2012, sent 33 more lawmakers to the House than Democrats, even though Democrats cast 1.1 million more ballots for House members nationwide. For the Democrats, gerrymandering is "like if instead of Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs had had to use Tim Burton," he said. "It's not technically impossible to win, but it's going to be much, much harder."

"Not all weird-shaped districts are bad, and not all normal-shaped districts are good," Oliver said, and "gerrymandering is not the sole reason for the mismatch between our popular vote percentages and our representation. Some of that is due to where Democrats choose to live." But more states should hand redistricting duties to independent commissions, he said. "Lawmakers should not be allowed to dilute our votes by drawing their own lines and essentially picking their own voters." Then he had his big finish, bringing on stage people he suggested had made bad decisions — Insane Clown Posse superfans, 47-year-old Quidditch players, erotic bakers, Jill Stein voters, racist grandmas. "Think about it," Oliver said: "Election results should not be the fault of lawmakers' crazy lines, they should be the result of our own crazy decisions." Watch below, warned that there's some NSFW stuff in here. Peter Weber

4:40 a.m. ET

Before Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) officially won his Democratic nomination in Vermont on Tuesday, he sat down with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show. Colbert asked why he wasn't in Vermont — Sanders said he'd voted that morning — and what democratic socialism means for Sanders and his allies. Sanders said it mean a $15-an-hour minimum wage, a national right to health care, tuition-free public college, and clean energy.

"Other people have espoused those ideas without calling themselves socialists," Colbert noted. The Democratic Party has been "socialist-curious" since the New Deal, he added, so why adopt "socialist," a label "freighted with so much negativity"? Sanders said his ideas are now "mainstream" and broadly popular, "and I think also people, in their gut, understand that we're living in a very strange moment in American history, above and beyond Donald Trump — which is very strange." Colbert asked what could be stranger than Trump, and Sanders said the unbelievably voracious "greed of the people on top," America's yawning wealth inequality, and the limitless dark money in politics.

Colbert brought up the 2020 election, noting that a betting site has Sanders tied with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as the likely Democratic presidential nominee. "You want to lay a bet on who gets to face Donald Trump in 2020?" he asked Sanders, who said absolutely not. So Colbert asked if Sanders would "announce to the people here that you are not running in 2020," and Sanders said "no" to that, too. He added that he's focusing on ending the GOP's grip on power in Washington this year, and "it is too early to be talking about 2020." Watch below. Peter Weber

3:08 a.m. ET

When reporters asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday about allegations that President Trump used the N-word and it was captured on tape, Sanders said she "can't guarantee" such a tape doesn't exist, and then she pivoted to jobs. "When President Obama left after eight years in office — eight years in office — he had only created 195,000 jobs for African Americans," Sanders claimed, incorrectly. "President Trump in his first year and a half has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years."

On Tuesday night, Sanders acknowledged her mistake on Twitter: "Correction from today's briefing: Jobs numbers for Pres. Trump and Pres. Obama were correct, but the time frame for Pres. Obama wasn't. I'm sorry for the mistake, but no apologies for the 700,000 jobs for African Americans created under President Trump." The White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) took responsibility for her error. According to government statistics, The Washington Post reports, nearly 3 million jobs were created during former President Barack Obama's two terms in office. Politico's Ben White has the graph:

The CEA explained that it looked at jobs numbers from Obama's election in 2008, during the peak of the Great Recession, and Trump's election in 2016. "The selection of dates is somewhat unusual because it takes into account job gains or losses before Trump and Obama took office," the Post notes. "In any event, economists generally regard a president's ability to shape employment trends as limited." Peter Weber

2:07 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Jahana Hayes, the 2016 national Teacher of the Year and a first-time candidate, beat longtime regional politician and presumptive frontrunner Mary Glassman in the Democratic primary for Connecticut's 5th congressional district. Hayes will face former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos (R) in the general election; Cook Political Report rates the district solidly Democratic. If Hayes wins, she will be the first African-American Democrat from Connecticut in Congress and the first black congresswoman from New England.

Being the first nonwhite Democrat elected to Congress in Connecticut "absolutely plays into everything," Hayes, 46, tells The New York Times. "Because while I see myself as someone who can be a representative of all people, I'd be lying if I didn't say that it would be important to so many people in my community. So many people in this state, and not just blacks, but for all people who want to show that we are a community that welcomes everyone." Peter Weber

1:57 a.m. ET

July 16 was a big day for Jeremiah Dickerson.

Not only was the 4-year-old adopted by his foster parents, Jordan and Cole Dickerson, but he also got to announce to the world that he's going to be a big brother, with his sister due in January. "It was an emotional day," his mom, Jordan, told Good Morning America. "In the end, Jeremiah has blessed our family more than we could ever imagine."

Jordan Dickerson is a pediatric nurse at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, and that's where she met Jeremiah in January 2017. She "fell in love with his smile and joy," she said. He needed to go to a foster home where the parents knew how to take care of his tracheal tube, and Jordan said she couldn't shake the feeling that he was supposed to be with her family. Jeremiah was placed with another foster family, but he soon returned to the hospital, and Jordan and Cole knew they couldn't let him go this time.

They went through training for foster parents and background checks, and in June 2017, Jeremiah was living in their home. A year later, surrounded by friends and family, he was officially adopted, and outside of the Tennessee courthouse he posed for photos holding a picture of his sister's sonogram behind a sign reading, "Today I became a Dickerson. Up next ... big brother." He said he already plans on teaching his sister how to dance and play basketball and baseball. Catherine Garcia

1:09 a.m. ET
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty lost the Republican gubernatorial primary Tuesday night to underdog Jeff Johnson, the Hennepin County commissioner.

Pawlenty served two terms as governor, winning elections in 2002 and 2006, and after he left office he went to work as a lobbyist for banks. Pawlenty entered the race late and did not go to the state party convention in June, but he still raised a lot of money. With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Johnson had 53 percent of the vote to Pawlenty's 44 percent.

On Tuesday night, Johnson said he believes his win is "just further indication that the rules have changed, not just in Minnesota, not just in our party. People are expecting something different from candidates." He will face the winner of the Democratic primary, Rep. Tim Walz, in November. Catherine Garcia

12:43 a.m. ET

"America is still reeling from the troubling reminders that Omarosa is still out there," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. He compared Omarosa Manigualt Newman's brand-new book, Unhinged, to "day-old sushi," then turned to her most salacious claim, that she has heard President Trump say the N-word on Celebrity Apprentice outtakes. "If this shocking allegation is true, it would undeniably make some of his fans very happy," Colbert said. "Others would go, 'Eh, I don't like that he's a racist, but you know, taxes.'"

Trump is fighting back on Twitter, denying such a tape exists and calling Omarosa a "dog." "That is so weird that Trump uses 'dog' as an insult," Colbert said. "He should love dogs — you don't have to pay to watch them pee." Still, "that's it, the president categorically denies saying the N-word," he added, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders ... was more equivocal.

"Omarosa continued her Trumpapalooza world tour this afternoon," Colbert said, and he wasn't super sympathetic about her whistle-blowing: "Be careful, Omarosa, you wouldn't want to damage your relationship with the president — he might not hire you four more times." But she did actually drop a bombshell, claiming Trump had advance notice about the leaked Hillary Clinton campaign emails. "That is a massive revelation!" he said. "The emails that Russia hacked, that WikiLeaks leaked, Donald Trump somehow knew before they were actually released. Somewhere in Washington, Robert Mueller is yelling, 'Uh, spoiler alert! Come on!' But Omarosa didn't just accuse the president of being a traitor to his country — she also accused him of being a bad friend," tarring allies with mean nicknames behind their backs. Colbert cut deep: "Yes, he had derogatory names for everybody. Some of them are really cruel. I hear he called this one guy 'Donald Trump Jr.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

12:29 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Ironworker Randy Bryce won Wisconsin's 1st congressional district Democratic primary on Tuesday night, beating Janesville School Board member Cathy Myers.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) has represented the district since 1998, and Democrats are hoping that this is their year to flip the seat blue. Bryce will take on Bryan Steil, the winner of the Republican primary, in November. Steil is a lawyer and former Ryan staffer who comes from a prominent Janesville Republican family, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Ryan announced in April that he would not be seeking re-election, and four other Republicans ran against Steil in the primary, including Paul Nehlen, known for making racist and anti-Semitic statements. Catherine Garcia

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