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"It's genuinely hard to get it this wrong," marvels John Oliver at Trump's Syrian dictator-cuddling

John Oliver
Screenshot: Last Week Tonight

For a guy whose job is literally snooping out harmful bullshit and making unholy fun of the bull that made it, John Oliver uses his main stories for a scrupulously wide array of topics, when the undisputed king of harmful bullshit is crapping all over the United States from his golden throne right in the White House. Sure, sometimes Last Week Tonight’s main stories each week take on issues that indisputably stink because of Donald Trump is only befouling them indirectly (The National Weather Service? Really?), while other times the eminently mockable assholery is even relatively Trump-free. (The Guinness World Records people do keep cozying up to insane dictators, but just not Trump, yet.) But some weeks, Trump’s brazen, mountainous bullshit piles too high for Oliver to do anything but sigh, pick up his shovel, and start flinging the heedless crap right back into Donald Trump’s face.

Take Syria, where Trump’s latest bout of babbling braggadocio claims is his biggest accomplishment in the recent history of things Donald Trump claims are great because of him but are obviously, empirically worse because of him. Oliver started out with Trump’s incoherent press conference boasting about U.S. forces having killed ISIS leader Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi, where his signature babbling seemed to indicate “Trump just learned how soldiers work.” Beyond how Trump breathlessly used the occasion to describe in graphic, widely disputed detail how a person died in order to satisfy his supporters’ lust for torture porn featuring non-white people, Oliver went on to examine just how Trump’s—let’s call it—approach to foreign policy in the Middle East is, in the words of even Trump’s arguably most slavish yes-person Lindsey Graham (R-SC), “a shitshow.”


Is that because Trump abandoned longtime U.S. allies the Kurds, who’ve, as Oliver put it, “fought in at least two more U.S. wars than Donald Trump ever fucking did?” Or that he did do at the command of Turkish dictator and American protestor-assaulter Erdogan, who showed just how little he thinks of America’s own would-be authoritarian strongman by crumpling up Trump’s barely literate tough-guy letter of watery warning before unleashing his forces to commit war crimes against our now-abandoned Kurdish allies? Or because our betrayal left the Kurds no choice but to summarily abandon the more than 10,000 ISIS prisoners they were guarding for the world in order to fight against Turkey for their survival? Or maybe that Trump’s claim that he wants to “bring the troops” home is complete, yes, bullshit, since he’s redeploying them to guard oil fields on behalf of other regional authoritarians in Saudi Arabia? Or, hey, what about how Putin has swooped in to annex parts of Syria that the Kurds have fled from, leaving Russia and Turkey’s respective dictators to laugh and laugh at how fucking inept, irrelevant, and laughable America’s become under the—let’s call it—leadership of the wannabe despot former host of Celebrity Apprentice? (Seen after Turkish forces are shown committing war crimes against the Kurds praising Erdogan as “a hell of a leader.”) Or what about when Trump compared abandoning our Kurdish allies being slaughtered by Turkey to “two kids fighting,” saying, “sometimes you have to let the kids fight?” (“Thank God he never had to raise any children,” said Oliver.)

You can go ahead and pick more than one answer, as Oliver did when summing up how one over-his-head dipshit with “a massive amount of power and a dictator fetish” can bring untold chaos and death to the world. And that, warned Oliver, was just in a disaster he caused, asking people contemplating a second Trump term (or even letting him finish this one) to “imagine what he might do in a crisis not of his own making.” 


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About the author

Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.