Speed Reads

Late Night Tackles Trump and North Korea

Stephen Colbert cringes at Trump's twin grudge matches: North Korea and Mitch McConnell

Thursday's Late Show kicked off with an old-timey newsreel about North Korea's threat to bomb Guam, wherever that is.

"I'd like to go on the record: I do not want the Earth to blow up," Stephen Colbert said in his monologue. That controversial pronouncement out of the way, Colbert had another: President Trump did not start the dangerously escalating feud with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. Still, while it's understandable that Trump wants to threaten "fire and fury" after Kim's provocations, Colbert said, when "you're in a hostage negotiation, you don't start with 'Go ahead, kill everybody. I'll kill 'em deader, then who wins?'"

Refreshingly, there's one world leader "who actually thinks Donald Trump did not go far enough — and that would be Donald Trump," Colbert said, playing Trump's new stance that his first one wasn't tough enough. "What is tougher than fire and fury? Lava and rage? A paper cut and a lemon?" A reporter asked that same question (as did Seth Meyers), and Trump was vague, saying only that North Korea would be in trouble like it never thought possible. "Oh, my God," Colbert said solemnly, "I think he just threatened to be their president."

North Korea isn't helping, sharing elaborate plans to send four missiles near Guam, Colbert said, but not on Guam, "which is the geopolitical equivalent of your brother saying, 'I'm not touching you, you can't tell mom!'"

"We've been so distracted by Trump's showdowns with Kim Jong Un this week that we have missed some other really big stories here on the show," Colbert continued, like Trump's showdown with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. After some poking from Trump, McConnell said that Trump, a governing newbie, has "excessive expectations" for Congress.

"Now, this is a pretty mild criticism, and I'm sure Donald Trump would just let it go," he said. "And here's his tweet." Well, multiple tweets, all of which Colbert read in his Trump-tweet voice. Then Trump then went in front of the cameras and kept on hammering away at McConnell, suggesting that if he doesn't repeal and replace ObamaCare, overhaul the tax code, and pass a massive infrastructure bill, he should step down. "Wow, that's a long list," Colbert deadpanned. "You know, I'm starting to think that Mitch McConnell isn't a very good president." He ended with a stirring homage to a Trump music video. Watch below. Peter Weber