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August 22, 2019

President Trump may not have given himself the Medal of Honor, but he has awarded himself several fictitious prizes, like "Michigan Man of the Year."

"Donald Trump is lots of things, but Michigan Man of the Year is not one of them," Chris Hayes noted Wednesday night on MSNBC. "It's not even an award that exists in real life, just in Trump's brain. And in Trump's brain, he's won lots of awards."

Citing an essay by Deadspin's David Roth, Hayes provided video evidence of "the strange reality in which Donald Trump seems to live, an alternate universe in which he's the star and big winner in a never-ending, televised award show." It's all fake, he said, "but the real question is does Donald Trump believe it's true or does he just thing we're all stupid?" Trump provided one plausible answer back in 2011.

At Deadspin, Roth provided another explanation:

Trump is a being of pure reaction and grievance and avarice, and as such is never really very difficult to parse. When he lies about money it's because he wants people to think he has more of it than he does; when he lies about golf it's because he wants people to think he's a better golfer than he is. Those lies tell you something about how Trump wants to be seen, but they're incidental to the bigger questions of who and what he is. Stranger lies like the Michigan Man one reveal more about how he sees the world and understands his relationship to the other people in it, which is fundamentally as someone cleaning up at an endless televised awards show. [David Roth, Deadspin]

In the case of his fake awards, Roth adds, "some dumb speech, long forgotten, grows into a great honor bestowed by strangers who admired him ... something he can bring up, whenever he is feeling under-appreciated or anxious or when nothing else will come." Read the full essay at Deadspin. Peter Weber

August 15, 2019

"In this age of President Trump and an intensely polarizing politics, we often need some comedic relief to lighten things up and also see things from a different perspective," Anderson Cooper said on CNN Wednesday night. "Enter Stephen Colbert." He played part of the hour-long conversation he had with Colbert earlier Wednesday, starting with Colbert's thoughts on acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services chief Ken Cuccinelli mangling the poem engraved on the Statue of Liberty.

"Oh my God, I blame you for Ken Cuccinelli," Colbert told Cooper, noting that Cuccinelli was on CNN a lot. Cooper said if any official in a prior administration had messed with that bedrock statement of American beliefs, "people's heads would explode." Colbert aimed higher.

"There is our physical Constitution ... but there's also this emotional Constitution that America has," Colbert said. "There's an emotional reality that we all share that makes us all Americans, and one of them is things like 'The New Colossus,' the poem that Emma Lazarus wrote that's on the Statue of Liberty. And we're constantly being told by this administration: 'You don't see what you see, you don't hear what you hear.' Now they're saying you don't feel what you feel. ... You don't actually believe that this is a nation of immigrants."

Colbert explained what he means when he calls President Trump a "heretic to reality." In Catholic theology, "the greatest sin is actually heresy," because "not only are you astray from the right path, you're inviting, you're encouraging other people to come with you on that path," he said. "Our president wants to live in a fantasy world where only the way he perceives the world is the way it is, only things that sort of serve his vision, and he's also trying to convince us that that is the only world that exists. It's extremely solipsistic. But he's also trying to invite us into this madness that he has, and that is heresy against reality." The thesis of The Late Show, Colbert agreed, has become "Hey, you're not crazy."

Watch below to see Colbert explain Dante's punishment for heresy and in which circle of Hell it's meted out, Cooper quote Dorothy Parker, and Colbert explain why he wouldn't welcome Trump back on his show. Peter Weber

July 2, 2019

Fox News commentators and hosts have been pretty effusive about President Trump's diplomatic overtures to and warm relationship with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, as The Daily Show playfully pointed out on Monday. They were not similarly effusive about similar but less grandiloquent efforts in the previous administration, as CNN media critic Brian Stelter noted more pointedly Monday afternoon.

"The coverage of Trump and Kim versus the coverage in the past, when former President Barack Obama would be willing to reach out to some rogue states or autocratic regimes, the hypocrisy burns," he said, playing some back-to-back examples. "You mash it up together, it looks especially bad for Fox, but on a daily basis, some of these talk shows, this is why it sounds like propaganda, this is why it sounds like something out of North Korea, because it is so dependent on who's in charge and what party they're in." Host Brooke Baldwin agreed: "If this were a Democrat stepping foot into North Korea, he or she would be excoriated."

CNN criticizing Fox News is not all that surprising. But Fox News hosts agreeing with the critique is something different. On Monday evening's The Five, Jesse Watters praised Trump for moving the Korean peninsula toward peace. "Historians will acknowledge that this step across the DMZ was a very powerful and important moment," he said. Greg Gutfeld said of course Democrats are attacking Trump, because in an election year "that's what you would do. And let's be honest, if it were the adversary, an adversary from your party on the other side, we would do the same thing." Watters laughed and added: "How dare Obama meet with a dictator and no preconditions!" "Exactly," Gutfeld said.

The five hosts make some good points — Juan Williams argued that Trump is doing nothing to actually denuclearize North Korea — and you can watch the entire conversation, self-awareness and all, below. Peter Weber

June 21, 2019

Fox & Friends is President Trump's favorite morning program, judging by his Twitter feed, and on Friday morning its hosts reflected the broader split at the network over what to do about the growing tensions with Iran. Like Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmeade said Trump should have followed through on attacks he was widely reported to have authorized against targets inside Iran. Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt don't appear to be as anti-Iran war as Tucker Carlson, but they were certainly willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt.

Later in the show, Earhardt assured viewers that based on her knowledge of Trump, "something's happening behind the scenes, there's a reason he hunkered down," and Doocy noted Trump said Thursday that someone in Iran "made a mistake." But Kilmeade was having none of it and said so.

Doocy ended the segment in the only rational way, along the lines Trump laid out to reporters on Thursday afternoon, before he reportedly authorized the strikes on Iran. "So anyway," Doocy said, "we'll see what develops throughout the day." Peter Weber

April 29, 2019

Jordan Klepper is taking a break from the alt-right character he played on The Daily Show and its spinoff The Opposition for a new Comedy Central show, Klepper, and he explained the premise of the show in a new teaser featuring Hillary and Bill Clinton. The Clintons are Klepper's "trusted advisers" on where to invest $1,000 of his own money in crowdsourcing projects.

They suggested sending Attorney General William Barr back to law school "for continuing legal education," after his slanted previews of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report; fought with Klepper about almond "milk" versus goat's milk; and started to lecture Klepper on the history of the saxophone (well, Bill did). And then they arrived at a crowdfunding campaign to get Hillary Clinton to read Mueller's report, and she decided to give it a go right then and there. Klepper had notes.

Watch below to see Hillary try out her own Donald Trump impression when she reads his purported line about being "f---ed" by Mueller's appointment, learn about the Klepper-endorsed Freedom University, and observe Bill pretending he's heard of Venmo. Peter Weber

April 24, 2019

The Portland Trail Blazers won their Western Conference playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, but it's the way they won that has everyone talking. With the scored tied and the clock almost out, Damian Lillard sank a 37-foot 3-pointer to give the Blazers a 118-115 win, a lopsided 4-1 series victory, and a franchise playoff-record 50 points for Lillard himself.

After nailing the game-winning half-court stunner, Lillard waved a cool goodbye to the Thunder.

Portland, swept in the first round of last year's playoffs, will advance to play either the San Antonio Spurs or Denver Nuggets in this year's Western Conference semifinals. Peter Weber

April 10, 2019

"Following the news is like being on a treadmill, except that I'm gaining more weight," Stephen Colbert lamented on Tuesday's Late Show. "And, as you may have noticed, all that news out there is crazy right now. I really want to believe that things are going to get better, but it's tough." If that sounds like the setup for a Sesame Street lesson-song, it was, kind of. Colbert went for a walk to clear his head and ran into Oscar the Grouch, and they sang a song pitting Oscar's glower power against Colbert's flower power.

The main thrust of the song is the question of whether things will get better or worse in the world. Stuff is bad now, they agreed, "but humans are ingenious, we're not a bunch of quitters," Colbert sang. "You still have faith in humans after logging on to Twitter?" Oscar sang back, and Colbert conceded: "That's a good point." You can enjoy the song, and find out who comes out on top, below. Peter Weber

March 15, 2019

Beto O'Rourke had barely officially entered the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination Thursday when the first attack ad against him dropped. And it is "devastating," in the words of its creator, Jon Millstein. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) seemed to perversely revel in inadvertently demonstrating how relatively edgy, relatable, and "hot" Beto is (or was), but this ad goes in the other direction. "There's a lot of things you can call Beto O'Rourke: congressman, Texan, charismatic political sensation — but there's one thing that we shouldn't be calling him," Millstein says, campaign ad music playing. "Beto O'Rourke is not a good skateboarder. Not even close. "

Millstein, a ClickHole contributor and former Funny or Die writer, obviously has comedic roots, and he's joined in the ad by actor and comedian Paul Dupree and Caravan Skateboards cofounder Danny Bezinovich. And they have other, less-devastating critiques of Beto, which they end with. But this ad isn't just a joke, Millstein insists.

Beto "is not so much a 'poser' as he is an atrocious skater (he skates like a goofy dad in a comedy movie)," he writes. And their choice for president, Brian Anderson, "is a skate god, an icon, and an inspiration, and he WILL be our next president." Sure, why not? Somebody has to win the Democratic nomination, after all. Peter Weber

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