Late Night Tackles 2020
February 5, 2020

Last night, "the great state of confusion formerly known as Iowa" was supposed to kick off the 2020 election with its Democratic caucus, Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "Instead, they kicked democracy right in the ol' hanging chad." All night and most of Tuesday, "every district was officially reporting at zero," he said. "Or as Tom Steyer would say, 'I'm tied for first!'"

"We've known for the last three years that this is the most important election of our lifetime, and on Day 1, the Democrats down in Des Moines shanked it," Colbert said. The main problem was a wonky app "developed by a company called — and this is real — Shadow Inc. The app was supposed to count the votes and, I think, kill James Bond?" He showed clips from the chaos. "Some people say that this debacle is going to end the Iowa caucus," he said. "But others are more optimistic and say it's going to end Iowa."

Like Colbert, Conan O'Brien showed the "insane clip" of an Iowa woman "finding out Pete Buttigieg is gay — after she voted for him." Unlike The Late Show, Conan created some parody videos.

Late Night's Seth Meyers compared the "weirdo antiquated" Iowa caucuses to "musical chairs meets debate class meets a slow gas leak." Look, he said, "I have nothing against old fashioned ways of doing things as long as its not for something important. If your friend brews his own beer, that's great; if your doctor still uses leeches, you get a new doctor."

"Iowans, I feel for you," Meyers said. "You take this seriously and it wasn't your fault the Iowa Democratic Party let you down. But you do know this was your last caucus, right? When you blow it this bad, you don't get another chance."

"It's a little embarrassing for the world's greatest democracy to have such a hard time counting votes," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "Maybe next time, Africa should send some election observers to Iowa." The Iowa caucus debacle "never would have happened if the Democrats didn't try to rely on that new fancy app," he said. "Luckily, though, there's a hot new solution that just came out of Silicon Valley that can fix voting forever."

The Late Show was on the same page, except instead of The Daily Show's PAyPR "app," Colbert's team went with pāpr. Watch below. Peter Weber

October 24, 2019

"Yesterday, the U.S.'s top diplomat in Ukraine testified to Congress that the quid, it was oh so pro quo," Samantha Bee said on Wednesday's Full Frontal. The diplomat, William Taylor, gave "the strongest evidence we've seen that [President] Trump really did pressure Ukraine to investigate his rivals since Mick Mulvaney went on TV and admitted it."

"For those who are a little confused by the Biden-Ukraine 'controversy' that Trump was supposedly investigating, let's do a comprehensive explainer of the whole scandal," Bee said. She kept it brief: "It's bulls--t. Explainer over." Former Vice President Joe Biden isn't above reproach on some issues, "but the Ukraine story is not one of them," she said. "So where did Trump get this crazy idea?" Peter Schweizer, a right-wing author whose latest book "created the Biden-Ukraine conspiracy theory that Trump is obsessed with," Bee explained.

"So who the hell is Peter Schweizer, and how does he keep Schweizing us?" Bee asked — and answered. A longtime associate of Steve Bannon, Schweizer "devised a clever way to use the mainstream media against liberal politicians: Just gather a bunch of provocative but unrelated facts about a Democrat and pretend they point to a nefarious plot that's completely unsupported by those facts, then, instead of feeding them into the right-wing media fever swamp, feed them to respectable mainstream outlets that, in their desperate quest for balance, will investigate, promote, and legitimize the story, allowing it to spew all over the news ecosystem."

Schweizer did it with Hillary Clinton in 2016, "and now the media are falling for the same scam all over again," Bee said. "The good news is that this time his scheme backfired and it may lead to Trump's impeachment. The bad news is that he probably has further plans for 2020," like "a book suggesting that Elizabeth Warren owns a condo in North Korea" or something. She tried out a Schweizer of her own, and if you don't mind some scattered NSFW language, watch below. Peter Weber

September 18, 2019

President Trump's "internal polling must be terrible, because he is now reaching out to people who want nothing to do with him — and this time, it's not Melania," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. On Monday night, Trump held a rally in New Mexico, which he lost by 8 points, and "after four years of Donald Trump throwing Latinos under the bus that he stopped at the border," his "plan to win is to woo Hispanic voters. Woo boy!"

"Buenos suerte with that, El Trumpo," Colbert said. "Trump must really need los hombres hispanico, because he laid it on muy thick," and un poco weird. When he singled out one Latino supporter, Steve Cortes, for example, he asked him a puzzling question. "Who do you like more, Steve, the country or the Hispanics?" Colbert repeated in Trump voice, adding, "Because I can't decide which to destroy first."

Trump clearly "tried to tailor his message to the crowd, and I'm not going to lie — it got a little bit uncomfortable," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show, playing more of the clip. "What do you like more, the country or Hispanics? Those two things aren't even in the same category. 'What do you like better, Pepsi or Mongolia?' It's also a sh-tty question because it implies that Hispanics aren't a part of the country."

"When Trump wasn't busy torturing Hispanic people with weird mind games, he tried to stay focused on going after his Democratic rivals, but in the middle of his rant, a fly buzzed in front of Trump's face, and that totally threw the president off," Noah laughed. And while Trump was in New Mexico, "bragging about how he helped the mega-rich keep their cash," across the country, Democratic rival "Elizabeth Warren was talking about making the super-rich pay more, 2 cents more," at a dueling campaign rally in New York. And after her speech, he added, "Warren spent four hours taking selfies with her supporters — it took three hours to get through most of the crowd, and then an extra hour for that annoying person who's never satisfied."

The Late Show also created a whole backstory for that fly who blitzed Trump. Watch that below. Peter Weber

July 26, 2019

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), making his second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, got a very warm reception on Thursday's Jimmy Kimmel Live. "They still love you," Kimmel said.

Sanders said he couldn't watch former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's testimony on Wednesday, but the bottom-line "message from Mueller is that the Russians intervened in the campaign in 2016, they are still intervening, and we've got to stop that. Whatever your political view is, you want to make sure that the election in the United States is controlled by the people this country, not the Russians or anybody else." Kimmel said "that seems very obvious and it seems like something that would be embraced by both parties, but it can't even get a vote in the Senate. Republicans have stopped it twice today." Sanders agreed and said the Senate is broken and owned by greedy powerful monied interests.

Sanders and Kimmel talked about the need to boldly tackle climate change (blocked by the fossil-fuel industry), Sanders' Medicare-for-All proposal (opposed by the insurance industry), and the high price of prescription drugs (thanks to the pharmaceutical industry). They also discussed Sanders' conversational friendship with Cardi B., the pro-Sanders community on Etsy — which Sanders has never visited, he said — and how President Trump would demand a cut from all the unlicensed fan merch, some of which Kimmel showcased.

"Do you relish in the idea of debating Donald Trump?" Kimmel asked. "Not only debating him but defeating him," Sanders said. "He is trying to divide our country up based on the color of our skin or where we came from or our religion or our sexual orientation ... and it will give me great pleasure to defeat this president and create a government of compassion and of love rather than just of hatred and divisiveness."

Kimmel wondered if Sanders' 2020 slogan — "Not Me. Us." — is a nod to Trump, then joked: "Is it smart to put the words 'Not Me' in your campaign for president?" They laughed and Sanders explained his slogan and hopes for the upcoming Democratic debate. Watch below. Peter Weber

July 23, 2019

Stephen Colbert interviewed Marianne Williamson on Monday's Late Show, and he introduced her as an "activist, presidential candidate, and New York Times bestseller." Once seated, he asked her what makes her "different than the other 24 candidates who are running" for the Democratic nomination. "Well, in some of the policy positions, I think I'm very similar," Williamson said. "I'm a progressive, left-wing Democrat," though "I want to be an agent of change, I don't want to be an agent of chaos."

Williamson explained that her promotion of love wouldn't stop her from sending the U.S. military into war, but she wants a Department of Peace to make war less likely. The Pentagon has a $750 billion military budget, versus $40 billion for the State Department, which includes some "peacebuilding agencies," she said. "Our peacebuilders get less than $1 billion in the budget," and she would change that.

"Do you feel marginalized out there" during the debates? Colbert asked. "They're like, 'Oh, there's wacky Marianne Williamson, let's put her out there, out in the peace fields'?" "My placement on the podium is the least of the ways that I feel marginalized in this election," she said. "But I understand how it works, and I understand that there's a sort of political media industrial complex, and last time is was 'It has to be Bernie,' and this time it's 'Oh, it can be any of these four or five.' And I have a problem with that."

Williamson said it's silly to trust longtime politicians to save us from the political "ditch" politicians drove us into, and Colbert noted that like her, President Trump had business but no political experience. "The president's problem is not that he lacked political experience," she said. "The problem is that he lacks ethics and he seems to lack a visceral taste for democracy." Williamson ended with and expanded definition of political qualifications and fighting words for any 2020 rival who considers her a political amateur. Watch below. Peter Weber

June 28, 2019

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D), both former presidential candidates, assessed Thursday night's Democratic debate on live late-night TV. And they largely agreed on who won.

Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) "proved she deserves to be on the stage tonight, for sure," Christie told The Late Show's Stephen Colbert. "First debates are about proving who belongs and who doesn't. ... And Harris tonight proved what I've known all along: Prosecutors know how to do that. ... They know how to ask a question, they know how to deliver a punch, they know how to do it with a smile on their face, and they know how to look righteous when they're doing it. And she did all that tonight."

Harris "laid some real punches" on frontrunner Joe Biden, Christie added, "although I thought his best moments in the debate was when he was going back and forth with her because he was a little more himself." Overall, "it was a tough night for Biden, but he has room to be able to have a tough night, so I think he's okay," he added. Christie said it's time to say goodbye to Marianne Williamson, Andrew Yang, Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), and NBC's Chuck Todd, "the most pretentious know-it-all on network news."

Dean told The Daily Show's Trevor Noah "it was a damn good debate," and "I think Kamala did great. I think, actually, Biden did pretty well defending himself." And he said it's too soon to start winnowing the field, though he did warn his fellow Democrats about "whacking Trump" in debates. "Trump will do that to himself," he said. "If we're talking about Trump three weeks before the election, we lose. Trump will remind us every day that we don't like him. We need to talk about the stuff they were talking about tonight."

Looking ahead to the 2020 general election debates, Christie said Harris and Biden would be a good match for Trump, and as for Trump, "the biggest weakness he has is, you know, swinging at every pitch." Watch below. Peter Weber

June 25, 2019

Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang's "Yang Gang" was in full force in Stephen Colbert's Late Show audience on Monday, but Colbert had Yang give his elevator pitch to everyone in America who doesn't know Andrew Yang from Adam — or many of the other two dozen Democrats running for president in 2020. "I'm running for president to solve the problems that got Donald Trump into the White House in 2016," he said, primarily job loss to automation. His primary solution is $1,000 a month for every American adult. Yang explained how his "freedom dividend," or universal basic income, works, and why he thinks America needs it in a world of artifical intelligence.

Colbert noted that Yang is in the second Democratic presidential mega-debate, on Thursday night. "What does a win look like for you?" he asked. "What do you want to get out of this debate?" Most Americans are only now paying attention to the 2020 race, Yang said. "And so a win for me is that Americans tune in, they say 'Who's the Asian man standing next to Joe Biden,' and then they look me up." They ran through some of Yang's other policy positions, including fair pay for MMA fighters, free marriage counseling, and abolishing the penny. "You realize you just lost Illinois," Colbert joked. Yang insisted his anti-circumcision tweet was just a suggestion. Watch below. Peter Weber

June 21, 2019

President Trump's speech at his re-election rally in Orlando on Tuesday night "was a rambling hash of warmed-over 2016 road kill, and the media had one consistent criticism," that he's still running like it's 2016, Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "I know Trump dismisses any criticism from the media as 'fake news,' which is why we have our own in-house news team, 'Real News Tonight,'" always "dedicated to giving the president the exact kind of praise he wants to hear on the TV. And since our reporters, Jim Anchorton and Jill Newslady, are such huge fans of Trump, we sent these two down to Orlando, and they filed this story that the mainstream media doesn't want you to see."

Trump might not mind you watching most of their over-the-top fawning report, but not the part about his less-than-capacity crowd. "Not an empty seat in the house," Anchorton said, with several rows of empty seats visible behind him.

"Trump was on Fox News last night, being lathered with love by Sean Hannity, and among other things the president boasted about the size of the crowd at his kickoff rally," Jimmy Kimmel said at Kimmel Live. Despite Trump's claim, he added, "we searched everywhere today, found no evidence they asked anyone not to come. In fact, he tweeted multiple times to say they'd have food trucks and big-screen TVs outside the arena. So anyway, the city officials in Orlando estimated the crowd at 19,792, so he's only off by about 100,000 people."

Still, Trump appears to know what he's doing, Kimmel added. "Trump has been raking it in since he announced his intent to be re-elected, they made almost $25 million the day after his pep rally. And there's plenty of exciting new merchandise for sale." He gawked at one shirt, and you can see why below. Peter Weber

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