Late Night Tackles 2020
March 21, 2019

The Democratic presidential field is large and growing, and The Late Show tried to break it down Wednesday with a March Madness bracket.

With 2020 slowly approaching, "the Democrats have narrowed their choices down to everyone," Stephen Colbert said in his monologue. There are so many candidates running that those "without a signature hair style, they've been experimenting with signature issues." Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), for example, wants to eliminate the Electoral College. The audience at Warren's town hall loved the idea, Colbert said, "but come on, if you get rid of the Electoral College, you turn the election into some kind of popularity contest."

Joe Biden, meanwhile, "still needs something to stand out," Colbert said. "One option he's reportedly considering is actually running for president. Another is selecting a running mate early. It is adorable that Joe Biden thinks the thing everyone really cares about is who the vice president is gonna be." And Andrew Yang has found his issue, he said, taking "a public stand that he wants to keep male genitals intact. I can see the yard sings now: Andrew Yang for a Better Wang."

"If you're having trouble keeping track of everyone in this guess-who game of candidates, don't worry, we are here to break it down for you," Samantha Bee said on Full Frontal. Pete Buttigieg, for example, would "seem like a great candidate, but his own husband has revealed something incredibly damning: Pete Buttigieg is a Hufflepuff," she said. "Listen, no one wants to be a Hufflepuff. ... All Hufflepuffs are narcs."

Of the 16 candidates, "15 will lose while one, let's be honest, will also probably lose and we'll be stuck with this toilet monster for another four years," Bee said. "So tonight, I'm announcing that I, too, am running ... far away, because this campaign is already exhausting and it makes me want to hide in a hole." There's some NSFW language. Watch below. Peter Weber

March 15, 2019

"That's right, Beto O'Rourke is officially in the race" for the Democratic nomination, Trevor Noah said on Thursday's Daily Show. "And a lot of people are wondering: 'Why is Beto even running for president when he couldn't even beat Ted Cruz? I mean, he lost.' And I'm like, yeah, he lost, but he lost by a little bit, which is what people love. It's like Rocky or Cool Runnings or Bad News Bears. You see, humans are weird. If you win easily, people hate you — like Tom Brady. And if you lose by too much, we just think you suck. But if you lose by just a little bit, people are like, 'That's my guy!'"

"The big question whenever a new Democrat enters the race is: How is [President] Trump going to bully them?" Noah said. "And with Beto, the president wasted no time" — and he had a point. "Seriously, have you seen how much Beto O'Rourke uses his hands?" he asked. "That being said, Trump is the last person to mock someone for overusing their hands. I mean, every single Trump speech looks like he's conducting every orchestra in the world at the same time."

Some of the things Beto has been saying are also "a little weird," Seth Meyers said on Late Night. "In the run-up to 2020, we at Late Night, we're going to try really hard and we're going to ask ourselves: Would we make fun of Donald Trump if he said that?" So he read the Beto quote in Trump voice. "Yeah, no, Beto, that was [bleep] weird."

"And yet, as weird as Beto's launch has been so far, as always, Trump and his allies on Fox News have found a way to out-weird him," Meyers said. He showed Trump's dig, laughing: "I'm sorry, are you accusing someone else of having weird hand movements and acting crazy? Every time you do a press conference you look like you're playing an invisible accordion."

At The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon rolled out his Beto impersonation, and he seemed to find Trump's hand-gesture critique a source of inspiration. Watch below. Peter Weber

March 6, 2019

Tuesday's Late Show kicked off with a Game of Thrones parody, borrowing one of President Trump's favorite memes to highlight the sweeping investigations House Democrats have launched into everything Trump: "This spring, brace yourself: Subpoenas are coming."

Host Stephen Colbert also started his monologue with winter and betrayal, using "a visual approximation" of former Trump lawyer Ty Cobb to showcase Cobb's glowing audio comments about Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation. The "visual approximation" was borrowed from a famous Christmas cartoon. "That snowman just tossed Donald Trump under the sleigh!" Colbert joked.

"Regardless of these investigations," Colbert continued, "we're getting closer and closer to the next presidential election," and "with nearly 30 people possibly vying for the Democratic nomination, it's easier to focus on who's not running." He started with Hillary Clinton. "That is tough news for Republicans — they still haven't realized she's no longer running in 2016," he said. Michael Bloomberg also said no on Tuesday, Colbert added. "I'm a bit concerned for him, because other New York mayors who've left office have ended up in humiliating dead-end jobs."

Jimmy Kimmel noted on Kimmel Live that while first lady Melania Trump is on tour, Trump once again ordered a mountain of fast food to host a winning sports team. "This is textbook Trump: He does something weird, and then keeps doing it over and over again to try to make it seem normal," Kimmel said. "Trump runs the White House like a divorced dad who forgot he had the kids this weekend."

"While his wife is out on the road speaking out against cyberbullying, Trump finds out Hillary Clinton isn't running again — which we all knew anyway — and writes" a sarcastic tweet saying "she will be sorely missed!" Kimmel said. There was actually a very mixed reaction to Clinton's low-key announcement, but "who do you think is more disappointed by this, Donald Trump or Bill Clinton?" Peter Weber

February 20, 2019

"Hello, I'm Bernie Sanders and I'm yelling for president of the United States," Jimmy Fallon said on Tuesday's Tonight Show, recreating Tuesday morning's presidential campaign announcement by the Vermont senator. "Dozens of my fellow Democrats have already announced that they are running, but ... I have the most experience — literally. I am older than all 20 of them combined." Fallon's Sanders explained he was "speaking in all-caps" because "we need change, and that's why I'm asking you to elect me, the guy who did this three years ago and lost."

"Bernie made his campaign announcement this morning in the most Bernie way possible, on Vermont Public Radio," Stephen Colbert said at The Late Show. "After that he made it official by posting a flier on his local co-op bulletin board." Sanders finished second in 2016, but the 2020 field is much bigger, and much more diverse. "Here's the point: Bernie's not young," Colbert said. "But he's right: The political landscape has changed; the majority of Democratic candidates this time around have joined his revolution. He's not just Bernie Sanders — he's Grey Guevara!"

Sanders "would become the oldest American president ever — yes, and I mean that literally: He was born a few months before George Washington," Trevor Noah joked at The Daily Show. "But don't let Bernie's age fool you; this guy is as feisty as ever." He cheered Sanders' verbal middle finger to Howard Schultz, laughing: "Yo, I've missed Bernie so much."

Noah quickly switched to a fond rundown of the "scandals" plaguing the rest of the Democratic field: Kirsten Gillibrand eating chicken "wrong," Kamala Harris listening to rap in the wrong decade, and most scandalous of all, Cory Booker being "a healthy eater." President Trump's "scandals are so massive and exhausting — it's like, sex with a porn star, conflicts of interest, corruption, his Cabinet — it's been refreshing to have old-school silly scandals again," he said. Still, he laughed "I feel so bad for people who take Fox News seriously — it's got to be so much work." Watch below. Peter Weber

February 1, 2019

Jimmy Fallon added a new impersonation to his impressive collection on Thursday's Tonight Show, cutting a 2020 presidential rollout video as former Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz. Yes, there are Starbucks jokes. "Over the past few months, I've traveled all across this great nation, speaking to everyday Americans and hearing what they had to say," Fallon's Schultz said. "Mostly they say things like, 'Please, for the love of God, don't run for president! Why on Earth would you do this?' But just like a true Starbucks barista, I didn't hear the words properly. To me, it sounded like: 'That's a great idea, you should really run for president.'"

Schultz vowed to "pay off our national debt using the $12 trillion I've collected selling Norah Jones CDs," and earnestly laid out a five-point plan, including such crowd-pleasers as "record a longer version of the 'Baby Shark' song." He did show some emotion at the end, though, in a manner any barista would recognize.

Seth Meyers was a little more direct in his critique of Schultz's run on Thursday's Late Night, though he, too, had some Starbucks jokes. Instead of laying out his "centrist independent" policies, "Schultz has been attacking Democrats," he said. "And so far, the rollout has been a disaster." That's partly because "there is virtually no appetite for a billionaire businessman to run for president right now," Meyers said. "I guess somebody really put a stink on that genre. Running like a billionaire now is like saying, 'We should do a music festival with Ja Rule on an island!'"

"If Schultz doesn't like the current Democratic field, he could just run against them in a Democratic primary," he argued. "But he wants to bypass the process because he thinks he's entitled to it. That's right, the guy who ran Starbucks doesn't want to wait in line." Watch below. Peter Weber

January 29, 2019

Former Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz just announced he "could be running for president in 2020 — or as they call it at Starbucks, Venti-Venti," Stephen Colbert joked on Monday's Late Show. He wasn't impressed with "centrist independent" Schultz's campaign logo. "Is he running for president or launching a daytime talk show?" Colbert asked. "Also, it's clear Howard Schultz hasn't been to a Starbucks lately, or else that handwriting would read 'Horsefurt Shlutz.'"

"Democrats have their own concerns: Schultz could siphon off Democratic votes and hand Trump a second term," Colbert said, "and Trump knows it, taunting" him to run, calling him dumb, and bragging about the Starbucks in Trump Tower. "Fun fact: Their coffee is Trump's only black tenant," he quipped. "I've got to say to all the billionaires threatening to run for president: No thanks, we're too full for seconds. Billionaires, you need to find new hobbies! Can't Richard Branson just build a day camp for these guys to keep them off the streets?"

Until Schultz threw his "grande wrench in the works," the 2020 election shaping up to be a simple contest, Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "I don't know if this is his plan or not, but after hearing him speak, now I need a coffee." If Schultz does run, "it would be Mr. Pumpkin Spice Latte taking on an actual pumpkin spice latte," he joked, adding: "If I was a Democrat, I wouldn't worry about the Starbucks CEO running against me because you know he's probably going to spell his name wrong on the ballot." Noah shifted to another billionaire "with nothing better to do than ruin everyone's life," Mark Zuckerberg, and his "junk idea" to combine Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

MSNBC's Steve Kornacki noted Monday that it's really not clear if Schultz would help or hurt Trump, and there's a chance he wouldn't really affect the 2020 race at all. Peter Weber

January 24, 2019

Samantha Bee kicked off Wednesday's Full Frontal with a nod to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shutting down President Trump's State of the Union speech until the government is re-opened. "Dude, I know it's driving you crazy that a woman turned you down, but this is the point in your life where you're actually going to have to learn that no means no," she said.

Bee spent most of her opening act on the government shutdown, its dire consequences, and the leading role of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). "Senate Republicans don't give a s--t about the wall, they're only keeping the government shut because that's what the president wants — it's the same reason they changed our national bird to the chicken nugget," she joked. "Look, we know that governing involves compromise, but how can Democrats possibly compromise with the least-trustworthy man in history?" She elaborately compared giving Trump wall money to investing in the Fyre Festival.

"The 2020 election is already in full swing, and the future is looking female," Bee said in her second act. "There are several exciting women running for president, and also Tulsi Gabbard," and "now that there are so many ladies running, maybe we can stop talking about the tone or volume of their voice, their outfits, or their marriages, and instead judge them based on their ideas and experience — I'm just joking," she said, laughing darkly. "No, it's going to be a total nightmare."

Bee gave some examples of how the media is already focusing on the wrong things with women candidates. Meanwhile, the Democratic "men don't have to worry about this crap — I mean, Jesus, they barely need to worry about being Democrats," she said. "We are not off to a good start. When we frame women candidates like this right off the bat, it becomes impossible to actually discuss them with nuance down the line." There's NSFW language throughout. Peter Weber

December 5, 2018

It emerged Tuesday that Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) met with former President Barack Obama last month, as O'Rourke considers throwing his hat in the ring for the 2020 presidential nomination, and former Vice President Joe Biden said Monday night he thinks he's "the most qualified person in the country to be president." Yes, "the next presidential election is 700 days away from today, and everyone is trying to figure out who the Democrats will run," Jimmy Kimmel said on Tuesday's Kimmel Live. A new Harvard-Harris poll has the earlier frontrunners as Biden, O'Rourke, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — or as Kimmel put it, "two old men and a baby."

"Biden, Bernie, and Beto are the frontrunners, in that order," Kimmel said, adding that Biden, Bernie, and Beto also "sounds like the law firm that would represent Kermit the Frog in his divorce from Miss Piggy." Biden and Sanders "have huge support from one of the left's key demographics, which is old men who fall asleep in movie theaters," Kimmel joked, and he found one to talk to, Mort Haskell (Fred Willard). Biden and Bernie were on the younger end of Haskell's candidate pool. Willard also played Gary Davis, president of the American Tuna Association, and you can watch him explain to Kimmel why millennials don't like canned tuna.

At Late Night, Amber Ruffin rooted for Mr. T to take on the self-styled "President T" in 2020. Watch below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads