Stephen Colbert tried to start his Late Show monologue with something positive Monday night. But all he could come up with was the cheery news that the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 750 points.
From there, he moved on to share with viewers that he’s been watching the HBO miniseries Chernobyl. “Over and over again in it, a scientist or engineer will tell a politician, ‘Hey, we’ve got a real problem here. The nuclear core is going to melt down and kill everyone,’” Colbert explained. “But the politicians refuse to believe it because any acknowledgment of failure threatens their position of power, and their power is more important than saving lives.”
“What’s that got to do with anything?” he asked. “Well, I think at this point it’s clear that America’s gun culture is melting down. But the Republicans in Congress would rather maintain their power than save lives.”
Instead of blaming President Trump for inaction on guns—or for inciting white supremacist hate—Colbert turned his attention to Senate Majority Leader and “this month’s centerfold of Corruption Monthly” Mitch McConnell, who has refused to allow votes on bipartisan gun control legislation. “I’m sure he has his reasons, like the $1.26 million in NRA contributions he has received,” he said. “You can’t put a price on human life, but it doesn’t stop Mitch from trying.”
Colbert did eventually pivot to the apparent racist motivations behind the mass shooting in El Paso and applauded 2020 candidate Beto O’Rourke for blaming Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. “Well said. That is refreshing candor,” he said. “It’s all well and good to offer thoughts and prayers, but sometimes you want shouts and swears.”
He also went after the president for mistakenly saying that Ohio’s mass shooting occurred in Toledo—as opposed to Dayton. “All right, wrong city, but don’t worry, sir, it's not like Ohio’s that important in presidential elections,” Colbert said. “Joe Biden better hope it’s not, because last night, he offered sympathy for the ‘tragic events in Houston and also in Michigan.’”
During his address on Monday, Trump declared, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy.” To which Colbert replied, “I try my best every night, but you’re still in office.”