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Late Night Tackles 2018
November 2, 2018

Stephen Colbert reminded viewers Thursday night that he will be live on Election Night, pre-empting CBS News' coverage of the midterms. "But there's big election news already, because today Oprah hit the campaign trail for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams," he said. "This is not easy, there's a sacrifice here. To take this partisan, political stand, Oprah is leaving 60 Minutes. Yeah, you know that that means? She's out of a job. How's she gonna pay her bills? We've got to set up a GoFundMe — so she can fund us."

Winfrey made a special point of insisting that she's not stumping for Abrams because she has any political aspirations of her own — "She's running," Colbert deadpanned — but because she wants everyone to vote. And she wasn't above pouring on the guilt, he noted. "Wow, I've heard of families guilt-tripping you, but only Oprah can make a family guilt-trip you from beyond the grave."

"But Abrams' opponent, Brian Kemp, is fighting back against Winfrey with who many have called the white male not-Oprah, Mike Pence," Colbert said. Will Ferrell was also in Georgia stumping for Abrams, but "the vice president had a message for those out-of-touch showbiz elites." Namely, Pence insisted he's also "kind of a big deal", and Colbert paraphrased his anti-Hollywood platitude: "This ain't Hollywood, Oprah! We don't cotton to big-city billionaires who are also TV stars! Take it from me, vice president to Donald Trump!"

Trump, for his part, told ABC News' Jonathan Karl on Thursday that he's "an open book," and The Late Show turned that into an alternate version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Watch below. Peter Weber

October 26, 2018

On Thursday, new suspected letter bombs were discovered targeting former Vice President Joe Biden and Robert De Niro. "Oh, come on!" Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "De Niro's not even a government official, he just criticized Trump at award shows. We're getting pretty far down the list of Trump's enemies at this point — watch your back, vegetables!" President Trump responded to the letter bombs by urging politicians to "stop treating political opponents as being morally defective." Colbert got the wrong idea: "So you're deleting your Twitter account?"

The FBI is searching for "whomever's been mailing pipe bombs to known critics of Donald Trump," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live, joking, "I'm glad I never said anything negative about him." Of course, he added, "the nut patrol is now out in full force — a number of prominent right-wingers are floating what they call 'false flag' theories." He focused on Lou Dobbs. Trump did read a statement about the bombs, Kimmel said, but if you thought he had "already reached the hypocrisy apex, I'm sorry to report you were incorrect." He showed some examples of Trump calling his opponents morally defective, then said that "blaming the media for bombs that were sent to the media is like blaming skyscrapers for 9/11."

At Wednesday's rally, Trump "kept bragging to the crowd about how nice he was being," Seth Meyers said on Late Night, and for Trump that meant just saying his normal attacks in a "nice" voice. "Man, low-energy Trump is so weird," Meyers said. He did pay Trump a professional compliment, though. "Listen to Trump's impression of himself — it's almost like he knows how crazy he is," he said. "I've said it before and I'll say it again: Donald Trump has the best Donald Trump impression." Watch below for Meyers' assessment of Trump's "closing argument for the midterms: Lying about health care, immigration, and a made-up tax cut." Peter Weber

October 25, 2018

Vermont Democrat Christine Hallquist is vying to become America's first openly transgender governor. Samantha Bee's Full Frontal sent Ashley Nicole Black up to Vermont to check in on the race, and she decided to cover it as if she were making an Oscar-winning biopic of a transgender trailblazing hero. Hallquist quickly disabused her of the idea, explaining that nobody in Vermont cares about her gender — she's running on a plan to fix the state's shoddy internet. The voters Black talked to backed up that narrative. "I have to say, since I've been here, everyone seems one, very nice; two, very well informed," she told one voter. "Maybe you guys should not get internet."

"I was looking to make a movie about, like, a very cool trans woman overcoming the odds, and I guess now my movie's about a nerd bringing the internet to Vermont," Black told Hallquist. "Yeah, I like the sound of that better," she replied. And then Black went into voiceover: "And I realized that while I was looking for a villain for my movie, it turns out — Shyamalan twist — the villain was me. I was trying to make Christine fit into my story, but hers is way better."

The race is rated a likely win for Hallquist's non-villainous opponent, Gov. Phil Scott (R) — the most recent poll shows him leading by 14 percentage points. Peter Weber

October 25, 2018

With the midterms 13 days away, "a lot of Democrats are on edge, especially today, because a serial bomber has sent explosive devices to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, major Democratic donor George Soros, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Maxine Waters, and CNN," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "Authorities don't have a suspect yet, but based on the intended targets they have released this sketch." The MAGA-bomber?

CNN got its letter bomb mid-broadcast. "That's ironic — it's like back when The New York Times was reporting on the Titanic and their offices hit an iceberg," Colbert said, throwing in a joke about Wolf Blitzer reporting from the "Situation Bodega." White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders put out a statement condemning the letter bombs and Vice President Mike Pence tweeted out a better one, and President Trump retweeted it. Colbert was underwhelmed. "It reminds me of Lincoln's first draft of the Gettysburg Address: 'What that first guy said.'''

"When news breaks like this, everyone's rushing to get information out and mistakes can happen, like this tweet from Fox News: Suspicious package sent to CNN contained some kind of 'white power,'" Colbert said. "An honest mistake. Fox has since tweeted out another unfortunate error: 'White House committed to finding perpetrator, vows do everything they Klan.' We made one of those up." He ended on the $1.5 billion mega-millions jackpot.

Full Frontal's Samantha Bee found the Fox News tweet puzzling, too: "I don't mean to be critical right now, but autocorrect doesn't change 'white powder' to 'white power' unless you type 'white power' a lot."

The Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon started with the lottery bonanza before turning to the letter bombs to CNN and top Democrats. "When he heard that, the president was like, 'Oh my god, is Fox News okay?'" Fallon joked. "Out of precaution, President Trump evacuated himself to a golf course — just to be safe." Watch below. Peter Weber

October 25, 2018

On Wednesday, suspected mail bombs were intercepted en route to the homes of former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton plus 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton, former CIA Director John Brennan via CNN, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and other prominent Democratic officials frequently vilified by President Trump and his supporters. Thankfully, nobody was hurt this time, Seth Meyers said on Wednesday's Late Night.

"Now we obviously don't know yet who sent these bombs, and it's important to let law enforcement conduct an investigation," Meyers said. "In fact, the only thing we do know so far is that whoever did this is not only a horrible person but a moron, because they tried to list the address of Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as the return address, but on the envelope they spelled it 'Florids.' Well, that narrows it down to anyone who still doesn't have spellcheck. What did they write that with? Microsoft Word 87? Even Clippy would have caught that."

"In a scary moment like this, you might expect the president to call for calm and to tone down his own rhetoric and direct his supporters to do the same," Meyers said. "Instead, President Trump initially outsourced that job to Vice President Mike Pence," retweeting Pence's thoughtful statement with a short plus-one. "You can't just add your name to someone else's statement like you're signing a Get Well Soon card for a coworker," Meyers said. "Trump's like a kid who tries to cheat off a classmate, except instead of actually copying he just writes: 'See Mike's test for answer.'"

Stephen Colbert had a similar reaction to Trump's retweet on The Late Show: "You're the president! There's been an attempted attack on two — two! — previous presidents today! This is the one time you can't think of your own tweet?" Watch below. Peter Weber

October 24, 2018

The midterms are just two weeks away, and President Trump "is taking them very seriously," Jimmy Fallon said on Tuesday's Tonight Show. "In fact, he seems pretty worried that the Democrats might take over the House, so he's doing everything he possibly can to sway voters. He even tried recording a message to voters, but it didn't go as planned. We actually have the outtakes."

Fallon's Trump mixed in some faint praise for not "Zodiac Killer" Ted Cruz among his malapropisms and enunciation issues, and like the real Trump, he made some iffy promises to try to get his voters excited: "Snack machines in all cafeterias with — read my lips — free juice boxes," for example, and a better Saran wrap, plus a non-Mexico source of border wall funding. "What if I promise I won't smile like this?" he asked. Watch below. Peter Weber

October 23, 2018

The pivotal 2018 elections are in two weeks, "Democrats are presently ahead in the polls, but President Trump is employing the same winning strategy as of 2016: racism and lying," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. On both fronts, he said, Trump is trying to paint a huge group of Honduran migrants and their kids as a pack of "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners," a veritable "National Emergy" [sic], as he tweeted Monday. "It's not a dog whistle, that's a dog trombone," Colbert said. "He's just stuffing all the fears into one burrito of doom." He suggest a few ingredients Trump might have missed, including "gay spiders."

"Trump is pulling out all the stops in the midterms to try to avoid the impending blue wave," Seth Meyers said on Monday's Late Night. "And the reason these midterms feel so tense is that right now, millions of Americans feel their democracy isn't working." He pointed to GOP gerrymandering, voter purges, and minority rule. Trump is using that anger to beget more anger.

"People are angry that a minority faction is ruling the country and ignoring what most people want, and they've expressed that anger in various ways, like confronting politicians in public or protesting in the capital," Meyers said. Trump and other Republicans are fancifully calling that "mob violence," and Trump has embraced a catchy rhyme. "When Trump finds a rhyme like 'mobs' and jobs,' that his Gettysburg Address," he sighed. "Meanwhile, there are Republicans who are literally violent," and Trump runs his administration like a "protection racket." You can watch Meyers' case for how Trump is "an actual crime boss" below. Peter Weber

October 18, 2018

"Voters who actually like Republican ideas are dwindling, so to stay in power the GOP is using techniques like gerrymandering, blocking judicial appointments, and voter suppression — otherwise known as Mitch McConnell's version of the devil's triangle," Samantha Bee said on Wednesday's Full Frontal. "And this week they have outdone themselves." She breezed through recent cases of voter quashing in Arkansas and Ohio but focused on two states: North Dakota and Georgia.

Bee started with the Supreme Court upholding a North Dakota voting law that effectively prevents thousand of Native Americans from casting ballots because they have P.O. boxes, not street addresses. The law disenfranchises a key Democratic constituency "with almost surgical precision," she said, unless they follow a complicated bureaucratic maze. "We called 911 coordinators in North Dakota, and even they weren't sure how this is supposed to work — probably because its not supposed to," Bee said. And the racially disparate voter purges and suspensions by Georgia GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who's overseeing his own bid for governor? She filed that under "How the f--- is that legal?"

"Republicans are getting more creative, and more shameless, about their attempts to block the vote because they know they're not popular enough to win without cheating," Bee said. (There's NSFW language.)

Popular or not, Republicans think they may have found their golden ticket. The "horrific" Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight may have energized Democrats, "but Republicans think it may help them more," Bee said. "But is the 'red wave' real?" Full Frontal sent Allana Harkin and Mike Rubens to a Dallas Cowboys tailgate to find out, and, well, they seemed surprised at what they found. Watch below. Peter Weber

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