While President Obama and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly weren’t sitting side by side next to Late Show host Stephen Colbert on Monday’s night’s episode, that they would be guests on the same evening was curious contrast enough.
Obama was up first, in a taped segment at Carnegie Mellon University, with the running gag being that Colbert was an unexpected, kinda unwelcome presence. “How did you get in here?” Obama asked Colbert more than once. There was also, in the midst of their largely mild skit, a get out the vote effort targeted toward millennials.
The focus was on Obama’s job prospects after the White House, with Colbert, as alter ego office manager Randy, there to review Obama’s resume in a “practice interview.”
“Fifty-five. Tough time to start over as a man,” begins Colbert as he proceeds to question the president’s lack of “promotions for the last eight years.”
“Honestly there wasn’t a lot of room for advancement in my last job. The only one with a more powerful position was my wife,” replies Obama.
The pair also mock the birther conspiracy. “It doesn’t say here,” begins Colbert, “Where were you born?”
“Really?” responds Obama.
“Is this the longest form of this resume available?”
It was not the first time that night Colbert mocked Donald Trump‘s penchant for promoting conspiracy theories. “These pants are clearly rigged. They used to fit me, but now they’re too tight. Somebody rigged them,” Colbert had said about ill-fitting pants during the show’s open.
Obama mocked himself as well. When asked about his accomplishments, he listed 30 honorary degrees as well as his Nobel Peace Prize.
“What was that for?” asked Colbert.
“To be honest I still don’t know,” said Obama.
Following their taped skit, O’Reilly came on as the night’s first guest. Colbert and Reilly have a history dating back to The Colbert Report, where O’Reilly, or papa bear, served as role model and demigod to Colbert’s conservative creation, as well as a show guest.
Trump’s baseless accusations of a rigged election were still on Colbert’s mind. Whether or not the election was rigged was the first question he asked O’Reilly.
“No,” O’Reilly responds. “Nobody cares about the rigged stuff, and he wastes a lot of time doing that,” he says later, elaborating in a discussion of what Trump should focus on. Except the idea has now entered the mind of many a potential voter, according to a Morning Consult poll.
O’Reilly had some other advice for Trump regarding the upcoming debate. “Stop whining.”
“Stop that and say, look. I have three things I want to say to you tonight. Bang, bang, bang,” he says, counting on his fingers.
“It’s rigged, it’s rigged, it’s rigged,” Colbert responds, counting on his own.
“That’s whining,” says O’Reilly. “He should have a little buzzer, you know, that whenever he whines they like, ‘bahh.'”
O’Reilly suggesting Trump stop with the griping. President Obama being asked to choose, in lieu of an on-air endorsement, between Colbert’s offer of “an extra fiber nutrient bar, which has traveled to more than 100 countries, or this shriveled tangerine covered in golden retriever hair, filled with bile, that I wouldn’t leave along with the woman I love.” Late night’s surreal treatment of the elections is comforting in its role as companion piece to the surreality of the elections themselves. The absurdity of the former makes sense as we wait to wake up from the inanity of the latter.