Last Week Tonight returned on Sunday night after a few weeks’ hiatus, and John Oliver wasted no time catching up on the biggest story during his absence, the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which he called “the most apocalyptic thing ever to happen to that city—and bear in mind their river has repeatedly caught fire.”
Oliver has made his opinion of Donald Trump very clear over the course of the 2016 campaign, dismantling his insane policy proposals and attempting to rebrand him with his less-than-appealing family name, Drumpf. But on Sunday, Oliver went after a central theme in Trump’s campaign and the convention as a whole: equating feelings with facts. Believing something to be true does not make it true, but don’t tell that to Trump, who delivered a speech full of half-truths and outright falsehoods, or to Newt Gingrich, who treats FBI statistics like “a fucking Rorschach test,” seeing in them whatever he wants to see.
But the illogic of putting feelings before facts doesn’t make that practice any less dangerous, as Oliver explained:
I think we can all agree that candidates can create feelings in people, and what Gingrich is saying is that feelings are as valid as facts. So then, by the transitive property, candidates can create facts, which is terrifying, because that means someone like Donald Trump can essentially create his own reality, and that is the closest thing to an actual magic spell I have ever seen.
And creating his own reality is exactly what Trump—like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and every other strongman in history—does best.