John Oliver’s main story this week was about charter schools. But the Last Week Tonight host could not leave the HBO airwaves for a month-long hiatus before at least touching on the “racist voodoo doll made of discarded cat hair” also known as Donald Trump.
The host apologized for talking about the GOP candidate so much recently, but after a week that saw Trump continue to drop in the polls, lose his campaign chair Paul Manafort, and begin to take advice from “sexually rapacious hard-boiled egg” Roger Ailes, he predicted this might represent a “fork in the road” for his campaign. “He’s either hitting bottom, from which he’ll rebound to victory, or it’s the beginning of the end.”
As Oliver sees it, Trump has two options. The first would be a “humiliating” and “off-brand” loss to Hillary Clinton, and the second would be a complete “reset” that allows him to turn things around and win. So with that in mind, Oliver spoke directly to Trump for the rest of his episode.
“It seems that you have two really bad options here,” Oliver told Trump. “If you keep going, you’re going to spend the next 11 weeks ramping up hatred in speeches, injecting poison into the American bloodstream that will take generations to remove, and denying the country the contest of ideas that the presidential campaign should actually be.” And at the end of all that, he said, Trump will either win or lose, both of which will most likely leave him “miserable.”
Oliver then presented Trump with a third option: “Drop out.”
“Simply drop out,” he said. “And tell America this entire candidacy was a stunt. A satire designed to expose the flaws in the system.”
Over the next several minutes, Oliver made that convincing case for Trump. Even though his campaign represented a “bigoted clown’s funeral pyre,” he “accidentally made upwards of four good points” over the course of his campaign.
For instance, Trump exposed the flaws of our broken campaign finance system, figured out how to exploit the media for free airtime, and proved Republicans will choose party loyalty over common decency at every turn. But perhaps “most powerfully,” Oliver said, Trump “exposed the flaws in us”: the voters. “Just think about how triumphant it would feel to say on national television, ‘I openly ran on a platform of impossibly ignorant proposals steeped in racial bigotry and nobody stopped me. In fact you embraced me for it. What the fuck was that about?’
“If you drop out in order to teach America a lesson, you would not be a loser, you would be a legend,” Oliver declared.
To help convince Trump to take his advice, Oliver presented an actual children’s book called The Kid Who Ran for President, about a 12-year-old boy who runs for president as a joke. Will Arnett even recorded an audiobook version to help dramatize the story for Trump, including the speech the boy delivers when he is elected president and promptly resigns.
Only if Trump is willing to deliver the speech from the book to the nation will Oliver allow him on Last Week Tonight. “Back in February, I stood here and called you a two-bit bullshit artist, conning America to help himself,” Oliver said, harkening back to his glorious #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain episode. “Please, prove me wrong and reveal yourself to be a three-bit bullshit artist, conning America to help America.”