After Monday’s full court press of late night hosts—even Jimmy Fallon!—condemning President Trump’s actions over the weekend, it was reasonable to expect the less-political shows to go back to their usual silliness. Then Tuesday’s press conference happened and everyone went back to the drawing board. Or almost everyone: Fallon returned to normal, though he noted that this was a function of time, not indifference, so we’ll check in with him tomorrow:
Note: The Tonight Show taped at 4pm EST, before President Trump's press conference.— Fallon Tonight (@FallonTonight) August 16, 2017
But Jimmy Kimmel Live! tapes later in the day, and Tuesday night, Kimmel threw everything he’d planned away to talk at length about President Trump again. Billed as “Jimmy Kimmel’s Plan to Save Us From Trump,” the segment builds to a joke that’s not all that practical: Kimmel’s plan is to offer Trump the position of King of America, then lock him in a castle in Florida and lose the key forever. That probably won’t be how things shake out—though he’s certainly right that it seems more likely than the Republicans impeaching their guy—but the way Kimmel gets to that point is extraordinary.
It should be more newsworthy than it is when a late night host calls the President of the United States “completely unhinged,” says his press conference was “unprecedented insanity,” and semi-seriously proposes we trick him into being imprisoned in a tower forever. But those are just baseline observations these days. What’s noteworthy is Kimmel directly addressing Trump voters, beginning with a very sympathetic picture of why people were attracted to him in the first place:
You were unhappy with the way things were going, you wanted someone to come in and shake things up, you didn’t want business as usual, nothing ever seems to get done, it’s always the same, these candidates make a lot of promises that go nowhere, it happens over and over again, and you’re sick of it. And so this guy shows up, riding down a golden escalator. He’s not part of the political establishment. In fact, he’s the opposite of that. He’s a billionaire—maybe—he’s written books, he’s not politically correct—he’s not even correct, usually—he talks tough, he wants to drain the swamp, sometimes he can be funny, he rips into his opponents in a way politicians never do, have never done before, and you thought, “You know what? This guy’s different, and that’s what I want: different. Let’s roll the dice, let’s get him in there, have him run the country like a business, cut the dead weight, toughen everyone up. Let’s shake the Etch-A-Sketch hard and start over.”
He leaves out “genteel white supremacy,” for the sake of not shutting people down, presumably, but after an account of Trump’s unexpected success in the primaries and general election, Kimmel drops the hammer, going down a list of Trump fuckups since being elected that’s nearly as long as Slate’s list of reasons he never should have been elected to begin with. And then he makes an earnest plea to Trump supporters to wake the hell up, swallow their pride, and join the rest of humanity:
But you’ve been trying to ignore it, because you don’t want to admit to these smug, annoying liberals that they were right. That’s the last thing you want to do. But the truth is, deep down inside, you know you made a mistake. You know you picked the wrong guy. And it isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse. So you can do one of two things. You can dig in like Chris Christie at a Hometown Buffet, or you can treat the situation like you’d put Star Wars wallpaper up in the kitchen. “All right, I got caught up, I was excited, I made a mistake. And now it needs to go.” Well, now he does need to go. So it’s time for you, especially you who voted for him, to tell him to go.
Kimmel is right about at least one reason Trump supporters won’t back down: their entire platform is doing whatever will piss off liberals. But it seems very optimistic to think that they can be shamed out of their love of being jerks, especially with people like Sean Hannity checking in from an alternate reality to tell them reassuring lies. Here’s how Hannity described Tuesday’s press conference:
President Trump sets the record straight about the violence in Charlottesville. It was an epic beat down of the liberal mainstream establishment media. They are now in full complete panic meltdown mode.
So as good as it is that Kimmel is making an earnest effort to get Trump voters to reconsider what they’re doing to the country, their fellow citizens, and the planet, in the end, all any TV personality can do is present Trump voters with a choice between uncomfortable truths and a big fat liar telling them they’re better than everyone else. It feels like we’ve seen this movie before.
Here’s a complete transcript of Kimmel’s monologue:
I want to apologize in advance, because we had so much fun stuff planned for you tonight. We worked on it all day, we had Bachelor in Paradise, kids going back to school, there was a horrible new pair of Uggs we were gonna discuss—I even thought, “Hey, maybe we won’t talk about Donald Trump much tonight.” And then he opened his mouth and all manner of stupid came out. And I’m not joking when I say I would feel more comfortable if Cersei Lannister was running the country at this point.
This press conference today, I don’t know if you saw this, I know a lot of you are here on vacation. It started—it was supposed to be a conference about infrastructure, and it ended with our president making an angry and passionate defense of white supremacists. It was like if your book club meeting turned into a cockfight—it really was remarkable. I don’t know who decided it would be a good idea to send him out there to talk to reporters today, but whoever did obviously misread his state of mind and the mood in this country right now.
The president—I feel like I can say this with reasonable certainty—the president is completely unhinged. The wheels are off the wagon and hurtling towards the moon right now. I have some clips to show you, and before I do, I want to say, clips are one thing—they’re edited down, we choose them for content, but if you get a chance, go online and watch the whole press conference from beginning to end, it’s astonishing. The only thing I can compare it to is, remember when Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield’s ear off? And then he bit his other ear off? This was the presidential equivalent of that. Trump wasn’t even scheduled to take questions today. He was supposed to give a brief update on an executive order he signed to boost infrastructure, but reporters wanted to ask about his weak response to what happened in Charlottesville, and things went infra-struckin’ nuts from there.
Trump: Honestly, if the press were not fake, and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice, but unlike you and unlike—excuse me—unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.
That’s right. He’s very careful about that. Like the fact that Ted Cruz’s father killed JFK and Obama was born in Kenya—he’s a stickler for the facts. OK, so when they got to his statement about putting the blame for the murder and the hate crimes in Charlottesville on “many sides,” not just the Nazis and Klan members—a statement he tried to soften yesterday by specifically denouncing those groups—not only did he go back to his original statement, he doubled down and actually defended their actions:
Trump: When you say the alt-right, define alt-right to me, you define it, go ahead.
Reporter: Well, I’m saying, as Senator—
Trump: No, define it for me, come on, let’s go, define it for me.
Reporter: Senator McCain defined them as the same groups behind—
Trump: Ok, what about the alt-left that came charging in—excuse me—what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right. Do they have any semblance of guilt? What—let me ask you this—what about the fact that they came charging, with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs, do they have any problem? I think they do.
I think we do. I think we might need an alt-president right now.
Trump: I will tell you something. I watched this very closely, much more closely than you people watched it, and you have, you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now.
Don’t say it right now, don’t ever. So he put blame on both sides, but he also had kind words for both sides:
Reporters: Neo-Nazis started this thing. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest—
Trump: Excuse me. Excuse me. They didn’t put themselves down as—and you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
“Very fine people on both sides.” Let’s look at some of the very fine people on the Trump side there. This is from the rally on Friday:
Marchers: Jews will not replace us!
Yeah. So here’s the thing. If you’re with a group of people and they’re chanting things like “Jews will not replace us,” and you don’t immediately leave that group, you are not a “very fine person.” And by the way, today, David Duke, who is a very fine former Grand Wizard of the KKK tweeted, “Thank you, President Trump for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville.” When David Duke thanks you for your honesty and courage, something has gone awry.
And then after all this, after fifteen minutes of unprecedented insanity—and you really should watch the whole thing—our president, as he left the podium, said this:
Trump: Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.
Reporter 1: What about the Nazis who support you?
Reporter 2: Do you plan to go to Charlottesville, Mr. President?
Jake Tapper: Good afternoon, and welcome to The Lead, and—wow, that was something else. Oh, he’s still talking, let’s stay listening.
Trump: I own a house in Charlottesville. Does everyone know I own a house in Charlottesville? Oh boy, it’s gonna be—it’s in Charlottesville, you’ll see.
Reporter 2: Is it near the winery or something?
Trump: It’s a—it is the winery. I mean I know a lot about Charlottesville. Charlottesville is a great place that’s been very badly hurt over the last couple of days. I own, I own actually one of the largest wineries in the United States, it’s in Charlottesville.
He can’t resist the plug, he just can’t! “My wine is fantastic, especially the white. There are some very fine bottles.” This is so crazy. You know, everyone’s asking if Trump’s gonna last four years. I’m wondering if any of us are going to last four years. I haven’t screamed at my TV this much since McDreamy died, I mean, really is the last time. The only person who’s happy right now is Sean Spicer, he’s doing backflips wherever the hell he is.
I’ve been thinking about this, and I want to speak to those of you who voted for Donald Trump. And first of all, I want to say I get it, I actually do. You were unhappy with the way things were going, you wanted someone to come in and shake things up, you didn’t want business as usual, nothing ever seems to get done, it’s always the same, these candidates make a lot of promises that go nowhere, it happens over and over again, and you’re sick of it. And so this guy shows up, riding down a golden escalator. He’s not part of the political establishment. In fact, he’s the opposite of that. He’s a billionaire—maybe—he’s written books, he’s not politically correct—he’s not even correct, usually—he talks tough, he wants to drain the swamp, sometimes he can be funny, he rips into his opponents in a way politicians never do, have never done before, and you thought, “You know what? This guy’s different, and that’s what I want: different. Let’s roll the dice, let’s get him in there, have him run the country like a business, cut the dead weight, toughen everyone up. Let’s shake the Etch-A-Sketch hard and start over.”
So you vote for him, you pick him over Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz and John Kasich, and a dozen other Republicans whose names we forgot, and ultimately he beats them. He strolls in, he beats all of these guys, these guys who’ve been in politics forever. And then he beats the ultimate political insider, Hillary Clinton. A woman who’s been running for office—a woman who ran for president of her mother’s uterus in the womb—forever. He beats her. Everyone said he couldn’t, everyone said he wouldn’t, but he did, and it’s exciting, cause this is your guy. You picked a horse at like 35 to one and somehow it paid off.
So now he’s the president. And it starts off ok, he meets with President Obama and they seem to have a nice conversation, then he moves into the White House. Right off the bat, he’s angry at the media for reporting that the crowd at his inauguration was smaller than he thought it was, which was weird, but not important really. And he claimed it stopped raining when he was speaking at his inaugural address, which, everyone could see it was raining, but okay, it was his first week, you give him a break.
So he gets in there, hires his daughter, hires his son-in-law, demands an investigation of voter fraud even though he won the election. He calls the Prime Minister of Australia and hangs up on him. He won’t shake Angela Merkel’s hand. He doesn’t know Frederick Douglass isn’t alive. He claims he can’t release his tax returns ’cause they’re under audit, then says he’s not gonna release them at all. He signs a ban on Muslims that he claims isn’t a ban on Muslims. He compliments the president of the Philippines for murdering drug addicts. Hours after a terror attack in London, he starts a fight with their mayor. After criticizing Obama for playing golf, he plays golf every weekend. He accidentally shares classified intelligence with the Russians. He tweets a typo at midnight, then wakes up and claims it was a secret message. He praises Jim Comey in October, calls him a coward in June, he fires him. He lashes out at his own attorney general for recusing himself from an investigation. He hires the Mooch. He fires the Mooch. He bans the transgendered in the military without telling anyone in the military he’s doing it. He plays chicken with Kim Jong-Un. And that’s just some of the list—if I went through all of it, it’d be longer than the menu at the Cheesecake Factory, it would be huge.
So he is, by every reasonable account, and I’m using his own words here, he is a total disaster. He screws up royally every day, sometimes two or three times a day. We can’t keep up with it. Things come out of nowhere. Every day, there’s something nuts. But you’ve been trying to ignore it, because you don’t want to admit to these smug, annoying liberals that they were right. That’s the last thing you want to do. But the truth is, deep down inside, you know you made a mistake. You know you picked the wrong guy. And it isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse.
So you can do one of two things. You can dig in like Chris Christie at a Hometown Buffet, or you can treat the situation like you’d put Star Wars wallpaper up in the kitchen. “All right, I got caught up, I was excited, I made a mistake. And now it needs to go.” Well, now he does need to go. So it’s time for, especially you, who voted for him, to tell him to go. Please think about it. He doesn’t even want to be president! He’s miserable! But he won’t resign ’cause his ego is too big, he can’t do it.
So either we impeach him, which could happen, but it might not, or we do what he would do in this situation: We negotiate. We make a deal. And I know this is gonna sound nuts, but I have a deal, so hear me out on this. I think this could solve all our problems. We’re all gonna have to be on board with this.
Instead of president, we make Donald Trump king. OK? We make him the first King of America. Think about it: England has a queen. She lives in a palace. Everyone makes a big deal when she shows up. She has no power at all. In the morning they put a crown on her head, she stands there and waves, she goes back to bed, that’s it. If the queen were to walk out on her balcony and open her shirt, nothing over there would change. The queen could be completely bonkers, it would make no difference at all. She’d still be queen, it would still be fine. That’s what we need to do with Donald Trump: We need to set him up in a castle, maybe in Florida, lead him to the top, and then lock the door to that castle. Forever. Everyone can call him Your Highness. Maybe we give him a scepter that he can hold. He can sit there watching Fox and Friends, maybe chip golf balls out of the window of his tower. There’s no way he turns that deal down, if we tell him he’s going to be the king.
We gotta get creative here, because enough is enough. Desperate times call for desperate measures. And I’m asking you, the people who supported Donald Trump, to step in and help for the good of this country. Mike Pence is ready. He’s boring. He’s relatively sane. He looks like a neighbor you might borrow a lawnmower from—let’s get him in there before it’s too late. Let’s Make America Great Britain Again.
Trump (with a crown Photoshopped on his head): There has never been a greater division, just about, than what we have right now. The hatred, the animosity. I will bring people together. I’m gonna bring people together. You watch. We’re gonna bring people together.
Well, we are watching.
*Correction, Aug. 15, 2017: This article originally misstated that Jimmy Kimmel Live! airs live. It is pre-taped.