Late Night Tackles 2016
December 20, 2016

Last week, the Republican-dominated North Carolina legislature made a pretty audacious power grab, voting to strip incoming Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of many of the powers held by his Republican predecessor, Pat McCrory, who signed the requisite bills. On Monday's Late Night, Seth Meyers ran through what happened and why it matters, but he began by noting Donald Trump's victory in the Electoral College earlier in the day. "By the rules of our electoral system, Donald Trump won, and our democracy depends on accepting the legitimacy of our opponents and the votes of people who disagree with us," he said, "which is why what happened last week in North Carolina is so troubling."

"So the Republicans lost, and now GOP legislators are stripping powers away from the Democratic governor before he takes office," Meyers recapped. "That's like losing a bet and paying with Monopoly money." The power grab included taking away the governor's party's right to control election boards, giving Democrats control in odd years — when there are no elections — and GOP control in even years. And the reason the GOP legislature is able to do this? Gerrymandering, notably by concentrating black voters in oddly drawn districts to dilute their power, he argued.

Meyers concluded by tying the North Carolina chicanery to Christmas. "This is the time of year when we take stock of all the things we take for granted — things like living in a stable, healthy democracy," he said. "But democracy isn't something that succeeds on its own. If it's going to survive, we have to fight for it." He broke out some props to finish his thought, and you can watch his closer look below. Peter Weber

December 16, 2016

You know who didn't seem psyched to participate in Stephen Colbert's 2016-focused cover of R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)" on Thursday's Late Show? Michael Stipe, R.E.M.'s lead singer. He stood gamely but grumpily as Colbert sang about all the terrible things that happened in 2016, starting with: "Oh great, it started with an outbreak — Zika — and Harambe." But about the time Colbert got to the "Leonard Bernstein" line — Colbert sang "Leonard Cohen died" — Stipe started to warm up, and when James Franco jumped in for the finale, Stipe was, well, fine. Watch below. Peter Weber

December 13, 2016

"Five weeks ago, the Democrats lost the presidential election, the Senate election, the House election, the Supreme Court, and the will to live," Samantha Bee said on Monday's Full Frontal. "Democrats are now officially in the wilderness," she said, and they're "reacting like any desperate party lost in the wilderness would: by attacking and eating each other." On one side are those advocating for the Stronger Together inclusiveness employed by Hillary Clinton and on the other are those, like Sen. Bernie Sanders, arguing for class-based economic populism and calling Clinton's approach "identity politics." Bee latched on to the "identity politics" meme.

"Hold up, Donner party," she said. "That's a fun new buzzword. Could someone whitesplain it to us?" The explainer was Heather MacDonald of the conservative Manhattan Institute, on Fox News. Bee wasn't impressed. "One, white males is an identity, and two, the only way white racism is a 'phantom' is that its most iconic uniform is literally a ghost costume." So she offered her own definition: "Identity politics is a dismissive term for what we used to call civil rights and equality." After playing Fox News clips where conservatives "generously" shared political advice with Democrats, Bee sighed: "Come on, Democrats, there's loser Stockholm Syndrome and then there's taking your talking points from Steve Doocy and pals."

And sticking up for equal rights isn't the electoral loser Fox News paints it to be, Bee said, citing the case of North Carolina. "You know what happens when Democrats stand up for transgender rights? They win. What do you know? And not just a governorship." Hillary Clinton talked a lot about jobs, she added, closing with some advice to Clinton's warring party: "Look, Democrats, I know you're having a rough time. You hate being lost in the wilderness — you have allergies, and you were reading a book in the corner when your Scout leader taught everyone which leaves to avoid. But if your panic over a loss makes you abandon both your principles and the people who actually vote for you, then you'll be in the wildness for a decade — or until Trump's Cabinet sells the wilderness to oil companies." Watch below, but be warned: There is some NSFW language. Peter Weber

November 15, 2016

Stephen Colbert had Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday's Late Show, and he began by saying that the former Democratic presidential candidate was the person he most wanted to talk to after the election. "It's been a tough week," Sanders said. Colbert said that during the primaries, people would tell him that Bernie supporters and Donald Trump supporters were basically the same. "What do you think is the common thread, because while it's easy to condemn, it is harder to convince or to understand," Colbert said. "Do you think there is some overlap in the anger of your two crowds?"

Sanders said yes, that "above and beyond the terrible bigotry of the Trump campaign," Trump "tapped into a lot of pain and anxiety and angst the American people are feeling, which is very rarely reported in the media or understood by the punditry." He pointed to a couple things: lots of people in America today won't live as long as their parents; a large number of 60-year-olds have no retirement savings; single moms can easily spend almost half their income on child care; and many college graduates earn minimum wage while trying to pay off massive student loans. "That is the reality of America we do not talk about," Sanders said, and both he and Trump talked about it. "By the end of the campaign, Trump was posing as a 'hero of the working class of America,'" he added. "Now, I happen not to believe him. I hope I'm wrong."

"People are marching in the streets. Are you in favor of that?" Colbert asked. "Yeah, I mean I think people are expressing their feelings, they're exercising their constitutional rights," Sanders said. "What about the 'Not my president?'" Colbert asked. "What we have to figure out is, Where do we go from here? This is the reality," Sanders said. At the same time, "let's be clear about this election. Hillary Clinton ended up with 2 million more votes than Donald Trump. So... don't see this as a massive success for Trump — he lost the popular vote. Second of all, he comes into the White House as the least-popular candidate in the history of this country." Lots of people who voted for him don't agree with him on women, African-Americans and climate change, Sanders said, and the goal now is to "figure out how to create an effective opposition." Watch below. Peter Weber

November 8, 2016

Election Day is here, and "this is supposed to be our moment," Samantha Bee said on Full Frontal, in an intermittently NSFW history lesson. "Girls that were born before women could vote will have their chance to cast their ballot for a woman." And yet, she said, "none of us has gotten to savor this historic election like we should. It's been like running a marathon while a bear is chasing you — we might be really proud, but it kind of gets lost in all the mortal terror, because apparently, a critical mass of Americans find a normal, center-left policy nerd less 'likable' than a vindictive, p—sy-grabbing hate Zamboni who jokes about killing his enemies."

"Now, if you don't like how Hillary Clinton seems like a fake politician robot, here's how that happened," Bee said. "Spoiler alert: It was our fault. We created her by slowly tearing down a badass feminist named Hillary Rodham." She ran through Clinton's college career and promising future in Washington, derailed because she passed the bar exam in Arkansas and failed it in D.C. Thinking that was fate, she went to marry Bill Clinton in Arkansas — a move Bee obviously looks at askance. "If she thought a human Free to Be.... You and Me album was going to be embraced with open arms by a state where pigs are headwear, she soon learned otherwise."

Rodham was criticized for not taking her husband's name, and even after she became a Clinton and then a first lady, reporters still wouldn't let her be herself. "If I were Hillary, I would have dumped America by now, but she's terrible at knowing when to leave a relationship," Bee said, in one of her milder digs at Bill.

"My point is, Hillary Clinton has spent the past 40 years learning to mask her authenticity, ever since the so-called Natural State couldn't accept a normal human woman in her natural state, with her own name and her brown hair and identity independent from the dude she was boning," Bee said. "Don't expect grandma to pivot on a dime now that authenticity is suddenly cool. Look, if you can't bring yourself to vote for Hillary Clinton, I get it. I'm not voting for Hillary Clinton, either. I'm voting for Hillary Goddamn Brilliant Badass Queen Beyoncé Rodham. I have a hunch she's still in there." Peter Weber

November 8, 2016

Stephen Colbert's Late Show was live on Monday night, so he was able to show footage from Hillary Clinton's huge rally in Philly with the Obamas, Jon Bon Jovi, and Bruce Springsteen. "Bruce talked about global warming and trade policy," he said. "Hillary, as always, ended with 'Thunder Road.'" At Donald Trump's rally in New Hampshire, Trump announced he'd been endorsed by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, which Colbert found fitting: "It's no surprise Brady is a Trump fan because Donald always appears to be under-inflated."

At a Sunday night rally, "Trump had the Bruce Springsteen of insane bow hunters, Ted Nugent, and the Nuge did not disappoint," Colbert noted, playing the clip of Nugent grabbing his crotch and calling it his "blue state." "Is his crotch actually blue?" Colbert asked, confused? "Guys, I've said it before, if your genitals resemble the electoral map at all, please consult a doctor immediately."

But the bulk of the monologue focused on the New York Times report that Trump's campaign has wrested away his Twitter account. President Obama found that funny, but Colbert appeared concerned: "You can't take away Trump's Twitter account! That's like taking away Batman's utility belt — all you're left with is a billionaire with anger issues." Seriously, he added, "Trump based his whole campaign on that Twitter account. What's he going to do now? Write messages in bronzer on bedsheets and hang them out of the window of Trump Tower? His Twitter is Trump's lifeline to the world, especially since it was revealed Donald Trump does not use a computer."

"Now, if Trump doesn't have a computer and they're taking away his Twitter, I think I know what's happening here," Colbert said: "If he loses tomorrow, his staff isn't going to tell him." He ended on the big final story of Campaign 2016: "FBI Director — and soon to be former FBI Director — James Comey delivering what may be the most infuriating takie-backsie in American history." He ended with a veiled message to Comey — and said to see it you'll have to watch his Election Night special on Showtime, where presumably the censors won't blur it out. Peter Weber

November 8, 2016

In his live pre-Election Day Late Show on Monday night, Stephen Colbert roped in some friends and an "adorable little street urchin" to sing-argue about whether to sit this election out. The girl kicked things off by questioning whether she should vote at all, prompting the first song from Colbert, telling her that of course she has to vote. "Mayor of Candytown" Jon Stewart stepped in to let the girl know, also in song, that "democracy is optional" and she doesn't have to vote — until, two spit-takes later, Colbert informed him that one of the people running is Donald Trump.

With Stewart on the vote train, the girl took her solo, making what Stewart later joked was a Slate-worthy "unbelievable contrarian think piece" on why sitting out an election where neither candidate shares your values is actually the brave thing to do — and just as Colbert and Stewart were about to sign off on this electoral nihilism, Hamilton's Javier Muñoz ran in to save us all from apathy. Whether or not you need a little push to go vote on Tuesday, you can watch below. Peter Weber

November 1, 2016

"Hope you like my costume that I wore, because tonight, I am dressed as the spookiest October Surprise: FBI Director James Comey," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Halloween edition of The Late Show. Comey's spookiest trick happened early, on Friday, when he "reanimated the corpse of the Hillary Clinton email scandal," thanks to evidence found on the laptop of noted sexter Anthony Weiner. "In a shocking twist, Anthony Weiner's penis might destroy two political careers," Colbert said, noting that before Comey's letter to Congress, Clinton was leading Donald Trump in all the polls. "Truly for the Clinton campaign, horny men giveth, and horny men taketh away."

"So this is it, emails that could tip the election in favor of a sexually ravenous, shambling orange baby-man," Colbert said. "So what do they say? What do they say? These emails must be explosive!" Why else would Comey break the long precedent of not commenting on investigations or acting in a way that could affect an imminent election? Well, Comey doesn't know what the emails contain, and said so. "That's like a captain yelling, 'All hands on deck, head to the lifeboats... at some point, maybe, I have no further information'," Colbert said. "So, to recap, to recap your weekend, here's what we know: Nothing."

The FBI director even acknowledged in a letter to his FBI staff that he felt compelled to write Congress even though he was worried about leaving a misleading impression. Colbert wasn't amused: Comey is "like a detective who gathers all the suspects in a room and announces, 'One of the people in this room is a murderer. Now if you'll excuse me, I have dinner reservations.'" He went on to discuss Trump's newly revealed humiliation of Chris Christie, the World Series, and a sex toy thrown on the field at an NFL game. You can watch below. Peter Weber

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