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Late-night hosts had fun with Senator Marco Rubio’s appearance on CNN’s Town Hall on gun violence on Wednesday night, during which time Rubio was grilled by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, parents and community members on his approach to gun control.
Rubio, who was the sole Republican on a panel that included Senator Bill Nelson and U.S. Representative Ted Deutch, was pushed by students and parents to state definitively how he would act following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas last week, which left 17 dead. Rubio, who received $9,900 from the National Rifle Association in the 2016 election cycle, according to FEC filings, said he supported the banning of bump stocks but refused to promise to not take any more money from the NRA, as one student asked him to do.
The father of one the Stoneman Douglas victims called Rubio’s response after the shooting, at one point, “pathetically weak.” In a speech on the Senate floor last week, Rubio said gun-control laws “would not have prevented, not just yesterday’s tragedy, but any of those in recent history.”
On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert called Rubio “the real star of the evening,” pointing out a clip in which Rubio, attempting to explain why fixing loopholes in the laws of who can purchase assault rifles were difficult, said, “once you start looking at how easy it is to get get around it, you would literally have to ban every semi-automatic that’s sold in America.” When his remarks were met with thunderous applause, Rubio said, “Fair enough.”
“That is a guy who cannot read the room,” Colbert quipped. Then he imitated Rubio: “‘Look, we have to get rid of guns and that’s a slippery slope to fewer dead people. Oh, you’d like that? Fair enough, I guess it takes all kinds.”
Colbert also joked about the visible cheat sheet Trump held during a “listening session” earlier on Wednesday with school shooting survivors and families of victims. ‘“It is a little unsettling that the president needs a cheat sheet for reacting to other people’s emotions,” Colbert said of Trump’s visible notes, which included a reminder to say, “I hear you.” The late-night host then revealed a small sheet of paper, joking that it’s the same one the president used, only it “looks much larger when he’s holding it.” Colbert also joked that the other side of Trump’s cheat sheet said “Do this: :(”
Colbert also took a moment to criticize Trump’s proposal that teachers carry firearms in schools. “Yes, just arm the teachers. I’m sure it’s in the school budget,” Colbert said. “Sorry your school can’t afford enough copies of To Kill a Mockingbird, but good news, we’re giving you something that can kill any bird.”
After Trump clarified his proposal, tweeting that only “gun adept teachers with military or special training experience” could use guns, Colbert quipped, “Can you imagine what this country would be like if anyone could get a gun?” The late-night host later referred to Trump’s suggestion as “offensive,” proceeding to show the president continuing to explain his armed-teacher proposal, saying some teachers have even won “shooting contests” and are there “for whatever.” “If there’s one thing that reassures you as a parent about the safety of your child, it’s when the president says, ‘whatever,’” Colbert said. The late-night host later joked that school mascots could be changed to Gunny, the gun-touting gun.”
After a House bill was passed to have every school and administrative building display “In God we trust,” on the property, Colbert shared a discussion with a mock god image via a projector. After asking god whether he was responsible for creating the second amendment, the god joked, “I said, ‘a well-regulated militia.’ Does that sound like getting an AR-15 should be easier than buying Sudafed?” God later said he supported gun control, jokingly revealing a handgun he was holding. “Say hello to my little friend. No background check and I’m a vengeful loner with a Messiah complex.”
Over on Comedy Central’s Daily Show, Trevor Noah argued that Rubio was “totally out of sync with the entire room,” also pointing out the clip about assault-rifle loopholes. “That was such an epic fail. Rubio said the solution like it was the problem.”
Then Noah related the moment to the “Me Too” movement: “It reminded me of the reaction that a lot of men had to the ‘Me Too’ movement, you know, when people were like, ‘If we carry on like this, we’re going to live in a world where men can’t even hit on their female staff. Oh, that is what we want? Okay. OK, fair enough, I misunderstood.'”
“Listening sessions are like therapy sessions,” Klepper began to explain. “You bring notes or you’ll forget one of your awesome comebacks. … People like Trump, people like Fox, heck, people like me sometimes need reminders to do even the most basic human things, like show empathy to the victims of tragedy.
Klepper proceeded to present his list of personal notes on his desk which remind him to “Be energetic,” “drink water,” and “do not unbutton pants or shirt.” Klepper also revealed the words on the teleprompter reminding him of what to say during his monologue.
“Bottom line. Bottom line. The president isn’t a machine, he’s an American,” Klepper said. “And real Americans are too busy making America great to remember to show genuine empathy to other Americans.”
Though joking, Corden took a moment to explain his surprise over the president’s “listening session” for it was the first time he was “acting presidential.” “I can’t believe I’m saying this, genuinely, I think we should praise Donald Trump here. I do. Sitting there on camera, listening to those kids, being engaged, he was truly acting presidential. … This is progress,” Corden began to explain.
The late-night host then quickly changed his tune after reading Trump’s recent tweets regarding arming teachers and continuing to support the NRA. “You were so close Donald. … Trump’s Twitter account should have a mandatory, 48-hour waiting period.” The late-night host proceeded to argue, “Has Trump ever met a teacher? Let me tell you, the guy who’s been trying to explain geometry to teenagers for the last 35 years is probably not the cool, calm guy you want roaming the hallways with a holster.”
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