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September 8, 2017

Stephen Colbert began Thursday's Late Show by urging people in the path of Hurricane Irma to get out of that path — and if they decide not to, to hunker down like billionaire Richard Branson did on his own private island: in the wine cellar, playing dice. "Because being in the path of a Category 5 hurricane wasn't enough of a gamble," he said.

"Now, I'm going to say something a little weird right now," Colbert said: "The Democrats won something." That something would be getting President Trump to agree to their three-month debt-limit plan, giving them leverage before next year's midterms. "Huge victory for the Dems, and you know what that means," Colbert said: "It's squandering time!" Probably. At some point. But for now, they're riding high and the GOP is furious. "So, we're finally seeing some deals happening, the art of the dealer is dealing it up with his art out there," Colbert said, and it might be because Trump finds it easier to make deals on Air Force One, which members of Congress are calling Trump's new boardroom. Colbert had a theory on that.

If Trump's making deals, his former chief strategist Stephen Bannon is making waves, Colbert said, catching up on missed jokes about Bannon's White House departure in August. Bannon gave his first post-White House TV interview to Charlie Rose, and Rose teased a bit on Thursday's CBS This Morning. It's a doozy, and Colbert began with Bannon's critique of the Catholic leaders opposing Trump's move to end DACA, namely that the bishops "need illegal aliens to fill the churches."

"Yeah, it's obvious, obvious on the face of it that the church is just cynically welcoming in strangers who desperately need help, so the bishops can get into heaven," Colbert deadpanned. "The fix is in. They're just buttering up the Big Guy. I mean Jesus, Jesus laid out the whole marketing strategy: 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall really fill up the pews. I'll take anybody. Peacemakers, lepers, Mexicans. Ka-ching!'" Bannon had more to say, and so did Colbert. Watch below. Peter Weber

September 7, 2017

President Trump boarded Air Force One and traveled to North Dakota on Wednesday to talk tax reform, Stephen Colbert noted on Wednesday's Late Show, "and by 'talk tax reform' I mean ramble incoherently until they turned his mic off," touching inelegantly on everything from North Dakota's drought to whether the label should read "Made in America" or "Made in the USA," asking the gathered North Dakotans to choose. "Yeah, we should definitely pick one — and then the Electoral College can pick the other," Colbert deadpanned.

Trump also made a punchline-ready joke about an "American model" for the economy, "but by far the most awkward moment — and for Trump, that's a pretty high bar — was when he brought up Ivanka," Colbert said. He played the clip, in which Trump recounts how his daughter/White House adviser asked to come on the North Dakota trip. "Not weird at all," Colbert said. "All of Trump's advisers call him 'Daddy.' Sean Spicer was actually the one who started it."

If that didn't seem sufficiently odd, Jimmy Kimmel slowed down the clip of Trump's Ivanka introduction on Wednesday's Kimmel Live, for his "Drunk Donald Trump" segment.

Colbert spent the rest of the monologue on the leaked excerpts from Hilary Clinton's upcoming book, What Happened — which, he joked, was better than the original title, Anybody Wanna Buy a Barge of Unused Fireworks? "Still stings a little," he said. Watch below. Peter Weber

September 6, 2017

Stephen Colbert's Late Show returned on Tuesday night after a two-week break, and he began the show by urging viewers to share their thoughts and money with the people affected by Hurricane Harvey, "because it's not going to go away for them for a long time." He also led a round of applause for the first responders, volunteers, and aid workers working in Houston and surrounding areas, before turning to another "unprecedented disaster, Donald Trump."

The president visited Texas twice after Harvey, but he "had a little trouble nailing the comforter-in-chief tone," Colbert said. "How hard is that to do? Look at the vice president, he nailed it on the first try. Donald Trump if you make me like Mike Pence, I will never forgive you."

Colbert moved from the unifying natural disaster of Harvey to the "manmade disaster" of Trump scrapping the DACA program to shield young adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children. "Even though his decision is unpopular, Trump bravely stepped up, then cringed back and had somebody else announce it," he said. But the DREAMers aren't the only ones who will be hurt by this decision — so will the economy. "Wow, Trump really is a dealmaker," Colbert said, slipping into Trump voice: "I'll trade you 800,000 productive young people and, wait, $280 billion for nothing, final offer."

"After a tepid press release and having Jeff Sessions make the announcement, the president realized that he needed to step up personally — and make Sarah Huckabee Sanders talk about it," Colbert said, noting a particular verbal slip Sanders made in her press briefing. Trump eventually made his own statement, proclaiming a "great heart" and "a great love" for the DREAMers. "And you know what they say: If you love something, set it free — then lock the door when it's gone," Colbert said. He wrapped up with a Bart Simpson joke. Watch below. Peter Weber

August 25, 2017

Alec Baldwin kicked off Saturday Night Live's Thursday night "Weekend Update" show with a sight gag about President Trump staring at the solar eclipse without protective glasses. "Now, a lot of people don't know this, but you can damage your eyes by looking at an eclipse," Baldwin said as Trump, wearing dark glasses as he stepped to the podium at a reproduction of Trump's Phoenix rally. "No one predicted this — they couldn't have, I figured it out all by myself." Baldwin Trumped his way though the hits, with Keenan Thompson playing the strange "Michael the Black Man" guy who's always sitting behind Trump at his rallies.

The writers evidently found it hard to outdo Trump's over-the-top performance, so Baldwin just mostly filled in the subtext, with occasional assists from Thompson. "Folks, the media has treated me so unfairly, by reporting my entire remarks, even the bad ones," Baldwin said. He touched on Joe Arpaio, Trump's track records with promises, and the wall, before trying to send Grim Reaper Stephen Bannon off with a warm farewell. Bannon wasn't having it — and that's funny because it could be true. Watch below. Peter Weber

August 18, 2017

Stephen Colbert started Thursday's Late Show on a serious note, recounting how at least 13 people were killed when a terrorist drove a van into a crowd of people in Barcelona. "This is a heartbreaking reminder that evil is real and that the United States is not alone in fighting it," he said. And Thursday afternoon, "President Trump said the right thing" — at least at first.

"I was sincerely happy to see that kind of moral leadership from our president — for about 45 minutes," Colbert said, using his Trump-tweet voice to read the president's follow-up tweet about Gen. John Pershing's fictitious pig's-blood executions. He played Trump's recounting of the fake but gruesome tale, suggested his bed-time stories must have been terrifying to the Trump kids, imagined some other made-up history lessons Trump might tell, then read a real Pershing quote that, for some reason, Trump doesn't bring up.

Historical accuracy isn't Trump's only problem, Colbert said. So is discipline. He's doubling down on his defense of white supremacists because, according to one adviser, Trump would rather have people call him racist that say he backed down. "Oh, then let me help: You're a racist," Colbert said, courteously. "Naturally, people are asking what happened to that new chief of staff that was going to keep him in line," he said, but "some people think it's already over for John Kelly."

Colbert was incredulous, noting that the current issue of Time, dated Aug. 21, calls Kelly Trump's last hope. "Kelly's time ended before it began," he said with mock solemnity. "He's some sort of time traveler. Now he just needs to get back into his DeLorean and go back to a happier time for him, like when he was fighting in Iraq." To memorialize Kelly's brief (but ongoing in real life) tenure, The Late Show showed a pretty remarkable, tongue-in-cheek recap of "General Kelly: 17 Days of Discipline." Watch below. Peter Weber

August 15, 2017

Monday's Late Show began with a quietly brutal, spliced-together speech that President Trump could have given on Saturday, after white nationalists, the KKK, and neo-Nazis tore through Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, but did not.

In his monologue, Stephen Colbert said he did not understand why Trump didn't just immediately condemn Nazis and the KKK, and recited an impressive list of things Trump has slammed. "After the president blew the easiest condemnation of all time, Trump took criticism from many sides, many sides," Colbert said. "But he did get praise from one group: neo-Nazis," and also, the KKK, specifically "former KKK grand wizard and current taxidermy lizard" David Duke. The White House put out an anonymous statement on Sunday claiming that "of course" Trump condemns the white supremacist extremists, Colbert noted, but "some people didn't need their anti-Nazi statements explained later," including Charlottesville's mayor.

Colbert had a laugh at the white supremacists marching with Tiki torches the night before the violence. "That's like villagers coming after Frankenstein holding scented candles," he said. "Your move, lawn flamingos." Tiki didn't find it so funny, putting out a statement disavowing the use of its torches in white-power rallies. "I've gotta say, it's pretty troubling when a backyard decoration comes out swinging stronger against Nazis than the president of the United States," Colbert said. But 48 hours after his "many sides" comment, Trump did read a proper condemnation on Monday, then took a pot shot at CNN's Jim Acosta when he asked if there was going to be a news conference, as advertised. "Sir, see how fast you condemned CNN, right off the top of your head with no script?" Colbert asked. "Next time, like that, but with Nazis." Peter Weber

August 10, 2017

Stephen Colbert started off Wednesday's Late Show by declaring that he's happy to be alive, a useful exercise in daily gratitude, then ran through the specific reason, starting with the U.N. Security Council's tough sanctions on North Korea, North Korea's retaliatory threat against the U.S., and the overheated response from President Trump. Yes, "renowned deal artist Donald Trump," he said, "saw their threat of apocalypse, and raised them one armageddon."

Trump's threat — "fire and fury the likes of which this world has never seen" — was classic Trump, or at least the second part, Colbert said, playing a reel of Trump saying variations on things "the likes of which we have never seen before," including an airport. But the "fire and fury" part was apparently improvised, because Trump was staring at an opioid fact sheet. "Look, I get it, I've done improv, and it can be tough," Colbert sympathized. "He should have started with getting a suggestion from the audience. 'Can I have a geographical location and a way the world will end?'"

North Korea was so intimidated that they immediately threatened to annihilate Guam, a threat Colbert found unfair: "Look, North Korea, leave Guam out of this. They're a U.S. territory. That means they don't participate in the elections, okay? They didn't vote for Trump — just like most of Americans."

"Now some are saying that Trump's atomic improv made things worse," Colbert said, but not Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said Trump is just speaking Kim Jong Un's language and Americans should sleep well at night. He pulled out a made-up book, Rex Tillerson's Sleepy Time Tales, but after reading one story, he balked. "It's just a book — we're probably gonna be fine," he said. "Anyway, sleep tight, kids, and say your prayers."

Not that Trump needs your prayers, Colbert said, pointing to the statement from Dallas Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress assuring everyone that "God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un." "Take out?" he asked. "Is that how God talks?" Like a cut-rate mafioso? "Now, I hadn't heard that God was pro-nuclear war," Colbert said, and Colbert's Late Show ceiling "God" stepped in to explain that all that peace-and-love stuff was from his "hippy Son." "One semester at liberal arts college, and all of a sudden it's 'Love thy neighbor' and 'quinoa is a super-grain.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

August 9, 2017

"I don't want to be alarmist, but we're all gonna die," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. This is inarguably true, but Colbert was referring to the mounting nuclear tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, and he started his recounting of events with the Washington Post report on North Korea's advances in miniaturizing nuclear warheads. "My god, Dennis Rodman, did you do nothing?" he joked. "But don't worry, the story gets worse."

Colbert stepped back, noting that of the 15 U.N. Security Council members who voted unanimously to levy new sanctions on Pyongyang, North Korea said it would only target one, the U.S., for nuclear retribution. Colbert turned this into a weird sexual thing: "Look, North Korea, stop trying to make us a thing, all right? I'm not saying what we have isn't special, but it's not exclusive. The United States, we sanction a lot of other countries, okay? I tell you, we sanctioned Russia just last week, and it felt pretty great. Listen, they threaten us in a way you never will — you should see the size of their missiles. You know what, maybe — I'm just thinking — maybe you should start threatening other countries, too, get out there, you know?"

Colbert did a sight gag with wolves and strangulation, then turned to the U.S. response. "Thankfully, faced with the greatest challenge of his presidency, Donald Trump stepped up and in a moment of pure statesmanship, de-escalated the rhetoric and brought calm to our worried nation," he said, pausing a beat. "I'm just kidding." After he played Trump's actual response, it was back to the gallows humor. Watch below. Peter Weber

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