Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Sam Bee investigates how Tom Arnold, Jerry Falwell Jr., Michael Cohen, and a pool boy fucked America

Samantha Bee
Samantha Bee
Screenshot: Full Frontal With Samantha Bee

Promising an episode of Full Frontal filled with only stories of “joy, inspiration, and/or moist eroticism,” Sam Bee instead plunged viewers right back into the oily, suspiciously shady swamp of Donald Trump’s America on Wednesday. And while her main story was merely Trump-adjacent, everyone came out splashed with scandal, innuendo, sleazy lawyers, kinky hostels, possible blackmail, nude photos, and Tom Arnold, because, as Bee blurted in beleaguered disbelief at one crucial point, “This is our world now.”

So what could Bee have uncovered (well, recreated from the things the New York Times uncovered) that would draw together in the same Unsolved Mysteries-style segment evangelical gay-basher Jerry Falwell Jr., Trump, Michael Cohen, a Miami pool attendant, and, yes, Tom freaking Arnold? That would be the ongoing investigation into the web of relationships behind Falwell and his wife’s $1.8 million investment in an LGBTQ-friendly hostel run by one Giancarlo Granda. Plus Falwell’s surprise endorsement of thrice-married serial porn star enthusiast Donald Trump over like-minded fellow evangelical creep Ted Cruz. Toss in allegations of unspecified racy photos that the Falwells sought to have supressed by Trump’s now-disgraced “fixer” Michael Cohen. And the fact that, because of our collective sins, Tom Arnold is now a major player in our national destiny. Just throw in the online hostel review phrase “had to be hosed down,” and you’ve got just the sort of shitshow everything with Donald Trump’s name attached eventually turns into.

Now, Bee isn’t saying (on advice of TBS counsel) that Liberty University president and scolding prude Falwell and his wife took a hunky young poolboy into their private jet for anything but godly and philanthropic reasons so he could open a gay party hangout. Or that Falwell’s hiring of Cohen to obtain unspecified but “terrible” (according to Michael Cohen) photographs opened the Falwells up to blackmail about throwing their influence behind Donald Trump in 2016. Or that Falwell’s eventual endorsement speech of Trump looks for all the world like someone is just off camera holding a very big gun to the very small head of his beloved puppy. Or that anybody had sex with anybody that they’re really, really praying their multimillion-dollar evangelical empire never, ever finds out about. As Bee put it, however, she is allowed to stare into the camera for two seconds making skeptical faces while the viewers at home arrive at conclusions of their own.

Oh, and how the hell does Tom Arnold figure into this? Well, he and Cohen are now, as Bee put it, “something close to friends,” because, again, this is the world we’ve made. The sort of friends who, in Arnold’s case, secretly record conversations on their cell phones (with a lingering shot right up Arnold’s nose) in which Michael Cohen obliquely confesses that, yeah, that is all sort of what happened. In taking viewers through the twists and turns and sticky places of Arnold’s nose this whole sordid mess, Bee explained that, once news of Full Frontal’s story reached his nose ears, Arnold, “I swear to Jesus Christ, sent our show their entire conversation.” As Bee put it in wrapping up the whole, um, affair, whatever happened, “The pool boy fucked America.”


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

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