John Oliver, the host of “Last Week Tonight,” opened an invitation to Donald Trump Sunday night, but only on the condition that he announce his campaign was actually more of a prank than a real bid at America’s highest office. Though Donald has claimed in the past to have received an invitation to the show it’s far more likely that he hasn’t. In fact, the show doesn’t really have guests although a few stars have shown up for individual skits like Mike Meyers and Steve Buscemi. Trump would be the show’s first-ever guest star, and they’ve already reverse engineered the RNC’s creepy star podium in order to lure drunk toddler Donald Trump into attendance.
Oliver describes Trump’s actions with something akin to envy but insists that it would be another thing entirely to actually accept the office. What’s truly “winning” in this case is to have a grand unveiling and admit that the whole process was a publicity stunt that somehow managed to get confused with actual politics; partly because Trump is so good at confusing idiots and partly because trust in American policymakers is at an all-time low. The whole episode has been eerily similar to a children’s book (The Kid Who Ran for President by Dan Gutman) in which a 12-year-old class clown runs for class president as a joke and winds up winning the American presidency. In the story, the child has the bravery to step down and point out to his supporters just how recklessly their votes were cast:
America must be in really bad shape if you elected me president. You better get it together and find some qualified people to run this country or we’ll all be in big trouble.
Oliver seems to be hoping that the real Donald Trump, who almost certainly isn’t the man we’re seeing on television, has the same basic convictions of character as this imaginary 12-year-old prankster. Though Oliver is by no means holding his breath. The HBO late night host is famous for some epic and epically expensive pranks of his own. Like the time he started his own religion just so he could ask for tax-free donations on the show. Though he later donated all of the proceeds.
If I had to pick out the one thing in America that has allowed for Trump’s strange rise to prominence it would be our lack of respect for the office he’s been nominated for. Fox News has spent the last 7.5 years convincing us that a black man, who by all measures has done a pretty decent job of running this country, is simultaneously a wimp and a secret dictator. But we liberals share the blame as well for how we treated Bush Jr. There is no mistaking the difference between our last two presidents. But Bush was not a complete idiot or a man simply looking for some cheap oil. Should I even mention the 9/11 conspiracy theories? But in truth, he was just an ideologue who had the misfortune of being wildly mistaken. Democracy cannot heal all ills. And sometimes you have to make friends with the best of half a dozen evils.
By mocking and mischaracterizing our leaders we have created an American populous (or at least a largish block) who really can’t tell the difference anymore between a future president and a rich guy with a big mouth. Even Bush seems pleasant by contrast. Because Bush actually intended to be president. He actually wanted to lead this country to greater things; he was just wrong about how to do it. Obama too is just a normal president. I think he did a much better job, but he by no means did a perfect job. We need to learn to talk reasonably with each other. If only to keep out the riff-raff; because there really are tyrants and sociopaths out there. And our ability to identify them is our only means of protection from them.
Featured image via video screen capture