Jon Stewart returned to The Late Show on Thursday to pinch-hit for good friend Stephen Colbert. In a lengthy address, the onetime Daily Show host called out President Donald Trump’s “Dickensian level of villainy” in the wake of his recent zero tolerance immigration policy.
“Hello, Donald. It’s me, the guy you made sure everyone knew was Jewish on Twitter,” Stewart began. “I know you’re upset about all the criticism you’ve been taking in the fake news and the fake late-night shows, it’s just we’re all still having a little trouble adjusting to your presidency as it goes into it’s… 500th year.”
“Everything’s off its axis,” Stewart continued. “Apparently now Putin and Kim Jong Un are noble, intelligent role models, and Canada’s a bunch of giant a—holes. That just hard to get used to. You’re redoing the post-war alliances, only this time we’re with the Axis powers.”
Stewart then pointed out the “one hallmark” of Trump’s presidency. “No matter what you do, it always comes with an extra layer of gleeful cruelty and dickishness,” he said. “It’s not just that you don’t want people taking a knee, it’s that they’re ‘sons of bitches’ if they do; It’s not just denying women who accuse you of sexual assault, it’s saying they were ‘too ugly anyway’; You can’t just be against the media, they’re enemies of the people. It’s not even partisan. If anyone in the Republican Party dare speak against you, they must also be humiliated, even if they have a terminal disease… which brings us to immigration. Boy, you f—ked that up!
“Donald, you could have absolutely made a more stringent border policy that would have made your point about enforcement, but I guess it wouldn’t have felt right without a Dickensian level of villainy,” Stewart said. “You casually separated people seeking asylum from their children. From babies.” Then, after realizing there was no use in attempting to negotiate or shame POTUS into decency, Stewart shifted gears and addressed the public.
“You know, as Lincoln once said— no, as the great Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘I’m the least racist person you’ve ever met. The blacks, they love me,'” Stewart deadpanned. Then, after pointing out he misattributed the Trump quote to Lincoln, he read aloud the correct passage from Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech, which concerned what slaveholders wanted on the brink of Civil War. “‘This, and this only: Cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right.’ It was on this point that Lincoln said the union could not bend, and what Donald Trump wants is for us to stop calling his cruelty and fear and divisiveness wrong, but to join him in calling it right,” Stewart opined, “and this was cannot do. And I say, by not yielding, we will prevail — unless, of course, the Democratic leadership continues to be a bunch of feckless—” Colbert then reemerged to stop Stewart before he pulled a Samantha Bee.
Watch Stewart’s Late Show address in full, then hit the comments with your reactions.