Stephen Colbert went live on Wednesday night following President Joe Biden’s inauguration and the sense of deep relief in the room was palpable.
“Well, you did it,” he told his Late Show viewers. “You survived the last four years and your reward? A shiny, new, old president.” After admitting that he “cried a lot” over the course of the day, Colbert said, “It was extremely emotional and not entirely in the way that I expected. Because I have to tell you, I have zero gloat in me. There is no end zone dance in me. What I feel is enormous relief.”
“Today felt like a return to normalcy, even though so much of the day was abnormal,” the host said. But at least, he explained, we’re now finally acknowledging the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. “And the weirdest feeling is when something is clearly abnormal and someone tries to tell you it’s not,” Colbert added. “What we saw today was the opposite of gaslighting. Today, we were reality-boarded, and I am here for it.”
As for the new first couple’s big entrance, the host joked, “Isn’t that lovely? A presidential couple holding hands in a way that doesn’t look contractually mandated.” The contrasts with Trump continued as Colbert said, “It’s so strange to hear somebody say that we’re a great nation without then hearing about which of us are radical socialist antifas intent on destroying our heritage with low-flow toilet flushes.”
And later, “It was so nice to have a president with a soul again. The previous one sold his to the devil and didn’t even get Georgia out of the deal.”
Finally, Colbert lauded the “beautiful, stirring words” from poet Amanda Gorman, who said that “being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.”
“Yes, how do you repair the past?” Colbert asked. “Have we tried unplugging the past and plugging it back in again? Because that works on everything else.”
“But however we fix this country, it’s not the new administration’s work alone,” he continued. “It’s up to all of us, as it always is, in whatever way we can. And President Biden, Vice President Harris, you have our prayers, our best wishes, and our every confidence.”
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