Over the last couple years I’ve been fascinated by the rise of John Oliver and his incisive Sunday night program Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The heart of Oliver’s program is a 15-20 minute monologue which looks for all the world like a contemporary secular sermon for the millennials. With sardonic humor and a surgeon’s scalpel Oliver exegetes his topic of choice each week, leaving his audience informed and entertained. But the entire program is driven by a prophet’s fury at the state of the world and a desire to change it.
This week Oliver turned his attention to Donald Trump. Like many commentators before him, he analyzes Trump as a dangerous, hateful phoney narcissist who cares only about propagating his brand. But unlike countless critics before him, he doesn’t get caught in the trap of being pulled into the gutter with his nemesis.
Contrast that with Marco Rubio, for example, who has decided to take on the Trump brand by capitulating to his nastiness. And so Trump mocks the size of Rubio’s ears (large) while Rubio mocks the size of Trump’s hands (small). With this sorry display Rubio illustrates the sober wisdom of Proverbs 26:4: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.”
By contrast, Oliver is never pulled into the gutter as he builds toward the climactic revelation that Trump’s ancestor changed their last name from “Drumpf”, a revelation that culminates in Oliver’s brilliant rebranding effort to “Make Donald Drumpf again.” With this masterclass bit of social commentary Oliver illustrates the liberating wisdom of Proverbs 26:5: “Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”
You can watch the episode below. And be sure to watch Seth Meyers’ devastating 2011 take down of Trump as well.