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

Stephen Colbert uses Schoolhouse Rock! to explain Trump's Russia walk-back

Donald Trump stopped trying to tell good lies a long, long time ago, choosing instead to twist the truth to whatever suits his needs at the time. (He recently returned to saying that the Access Hollywood tape is fake, for example, after previously admitting it was real. Because nothing matters!) His most egregious fib of late found him claiming that he misspoke during a press conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin, clarifying his position on Russian meddling in the election thusly:

“I thought it would be obvious, but I would like to clarify just in case it wasn’t. In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’,” he said. He added, “The sentence should have been: ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia,’ sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.”

The best part? He was reading it from a script, like a grade schooler being forced to publicly atone before his classroom.

Anyways, Trump’s “sort of a double negative” has received no shortage of parody, the best of which from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. After a monologue in which Colbert so bluntly stated that “you’d have to be some kind of idiot to buy” Trump’s flip-flop, the show offered up a primer for the president in double negatives. Crafted in the style of those whimsical (and educational) Schoolhouse Rock! cartoons of yore, the clip uses some widely held beliefs about our president to help better illustrate the grammatical concept.


“Double negative, what’s your function?/ A desperate way to not side with the Russians,” the sketch’s song begins. “Double negative, how’s that function?/ Confusing the people with sentence construction.” From there, the clip further delves into double negatives as it takes jabs at Trump’s penchant for “Aryan rootin’,” “touchin’ ladies,” and “bowin’ to Putin.” You can watch it up top; the rest of Colbert’s monologue is below.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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