For months, John Oliver had kept relatively mum on the subject of Donald J. Trump, the orange-colored, finger-wagging, fox-haired Republican frontrunner for the presidential nomination. Perhaps it was the long hiatus—or the fact that Trump is now the outright leader going into Super Tuesday—but on Sunday’s Oscar night edition of his HBO program Last Week Tonight, the wily Brit unloaded on candidate Trump.
“At this point, Donald Trump is America’s back mole: It may have seemed harmless a year ago, but now that it’s gotten frighteningly bigger, it is no longer wise to ignore it,” said Oliver.The late-night host seemed to have had a fire lit under him by Trump’s bogus claim that the program had invited him to appear on it “four or five times” (try zero), and that Trump had said the following about Oliver’s former Daily Show boss and mentor:
Oliver then continued to dismantle Trump’s exaggerations point-by-point, starting with the claim he made to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that he was “self-funded,” having contributed “probably twenty, twenty-five million dollars” to his own presidential campaign
“While it is true that he hasn’t taken corporate money, the implication that he has personally spent $20-25 million is a bit of a stretch, because what he’s actually done is loaned his own campaign $17.5 million, and has personally given just $250,000,” said Oliver. “And that’s important because up until the convention, he can pay himself back for the loan with campaign funds.” He’s also, according to Oliver, taken in $7,497,984.50 in individual contributions: “If he didn’t want it, maybe he shouldn’t have two ‘donate’ buttons on his website, because money isn’t unsolicited when you have to ask for someone’s credit card expiration date to receive it.”
Or how about the claim that Trump is “tough?” “Well again, I’m not sure about that, because for a tough guy he has incredibly thin skin,” said Oliver. He then spoke of how, in 1988, Spy magazine branded Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian,” and the real estate baron has held a massive grudge ever since, with the editor Graydon Carter writing, “To this day, I receive the occasional envelope from Trump. There is always a photo of him—generally a tear sheet from a magazine. On all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers… Like the other packages, this one included a circled hand and the words, also written in gold Sharpie: ‘See, not so short!’”
“The very fact that he’s so sensitive about [his fingers] is absolutely hilarious, as is the fact that those notes were apparently written in Gold Sharpie, which is so quintessentially Donald Trump: something that gives the passing appearance of wealth, but is really just a cheap tool,” joked Oliver.
Trump also not only received “a multimillion-dollar inheritance from his father, but he’s also lost a huge amount,” claimed Oliver, before throwing to a clip of his daughter, Ivanka Trump, from the documentary Born Rich.
“I remember once my father and I were walking down Fifth Avenue, and there was a homeless person sitting outside of Trump Tower,” she recalled in the film. “I remember my father pointing to him and saying, ‘You know, that guy has $8 billion more than me’—because [my father] was just in extreme debt at that point.”
“And that really shows you the indomitable spirit of Donald Trump: to fall to his lowest point, and in that very moment, still find a way to be kind of a dick to a homeless guy,” Oliver quipped.
And, while Trump claims to be worth in excess of $10 billion, he also alleged in a deposition—against a biographer who claimed he was worth “a mere $150-250 million,” according to Oliver—that his estimate of his net worth fluctuates based on “… feelings, even my own feelings…. And that can change rapidly from day to day.” Huh? “He claimed that his net worth changes depending on his mood, which makes absolutely no sense, partly because he always seems to be in the same mood—specifically, smug yet gassy,” said Oliver. Oliver also brought attention to Brand Trump’s many past business failures.
“Over the years, his name has been on some things that have arguably been very un-good, including Trump Shuttle, which no longer exists; Trump Vodka, which was discontinued; Trump Magazine, which folded; Trump World Magazine, which also folded; Trump University, over which he’s being sued; and of course, the travel-booking site GoTrump.com, whose brief existence was, I imagine, a real thorn in the side of anyone hoping GotRump.com featured a single thing worth masturbating to,” he said.“Trump’s lack of sound financial instincts is perhaps best exemplified by the business that he put his name on back in 2006, just before the entire housing market collapsed,” added Oliver. Yes, that would Trump Mortgage. “I think it’s a great time to start a mortgage company,” a smiling Trump says in a clip.
“Starting a mortgage company in 2006 was one of the worst decisions you could possibly make,” said Oliver.
There’s also Trump’s flip-flopping on the issues—which Oliver claimed has been masked by his position as a “mascot” symbolizing wealth and success.
“It’s time to stop thinking of the mascot and start thinking of the man, because a candidate for president needs a coherent set of policies,” said Oliver. “Whatever you think about Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, at least you basically know where they stand, but Trump’s opinions have been wildly inconsistent. He’s been pro-choice and pro-life, for and against assault weapon bans, in favor of both bringing in Syrian refugees and deporting them out of the country, and that inconsistency can be troubling.”
Cut to Sunday morning, when CNN State of the Union host Jake Tapper asked Trump about the public endorsement by former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, and if he would “unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don’t want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election,” to which Trump replied, “Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists… Honestly, I don’t know David Duke. I don’t believe I’ve ever met him—I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet him—and I just don’t know anything about him.” “Really? That’s your best answer there?” asked a puzzled Oliver. “Because you definitely know who he is, partly because you called him ‘a bigot’ and ‘a racist’ in the past, but that’s not even the fucking point. The point is, with an answer like that, you are either racist or you are pretending to be, and at some point, there is no difference there.”
The host seemed genuinely concerned about how “We have no way of knowing which of his inconsistent views he will hold in office,” including Trump’s insane plan to defeat ISIS: “We’re fighting a very politically-correct war,” he said on Fox & Friends. “The other thing is, with the terrorists, you have to take out their families.”“That is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination advocating a war crime,” said Oliver. “And he might say he was joking or he’s changed his mind about any of these things, and private individuals are allowed to change their minds—we all do it—but when he’s sworn in as president on January 20, 2017, on that day, his opinions are going to matter. And you will remember that date, because it’s the one that time travelers from the future will come back to to try and stop the whole thing from happening.”
Oliver’s special way of combatting the Trump mystique—and the spell he’s cast on millions of misguided Americans—is, since the name “Trump” serves as the cornerstone of his brand, to separate the word from the man. And wouldn’t you know, but according to journalist Gwenda Blair’s book, The Trumps: Three Generations That Built An Empire, the name “Trump” was changed at one point from, yes, Drumpf. “Fucking Drumpf!” Oliver exclaimed. “Drumpf is much less magical. It’s the sound produced when a morbidly obese pigeon flies into the window of a foreclosed Old Navy. Drumpf. It’s the sound of a bottle of store-brand root beer falling off the shelf in a gas station minimart. And it may seem weird to bring up his ancestral name, but to quote Donald Trump, he “should be proud of his heritage”—back to that Stewart tweet—because Drumpf is much more reflective of who he actually is.”
He then pleaded with his audience—and America—to make #MakeDonaldDrumpfGreatAgain trend, and informed viewers that they’ve not only filed paperwork to trademark the name ‘Drumpf,’ but also purchased the domain DonaldJDrumpf.com, where visitors can download a Drumpfinator Google Chrome extension that will replace ‘Trump’ with ‘Drumpf’ wherever it appears in your browser, or purchase a ‘Make Donald Drumpf Again’ hat, which is being sold at cost.
“So if you are thinking of voting for Donald Trump, the charismatic guy promising to ‘Make America Great Again,’ stop and take a moment to imagine how you would feel if you just met a guy named Donald Drumpf: a litigious, serial liar with a string of broken business ventures and the support of a former Klan leader who he can’t decide whether or not to condemn,” said Oliver. “Would you think he would make a good president, or is the spell now somewhat broken?”