Late-night hosts recap the supreme court’s rebuke of a Hail Mary lawsuit to overturn the election in Pennsylvania, and discuss Trump’s pardon-palooza.

Trevor Noah

Another post-election day, another round of Donald Trump’s “bar fight with reality”, according to Trevor Noah, although that may be coming to an end with a death knell dismissal from the supreme court of a Republican-backed lawsuit to overturn the election in Pennsylvania.

It took just 34 minutes from the brief’s filing for the court to issue a one-sentence rebuke: “the application for injunctive relief presented to justice Alito and by him referred to the court is denied”. There was no recorded dissent from any of the nine justices, including Trump’s three appointees.

In other words, “Trump is taking L’s, people,” said the Daily Show host. “Not only did they shut this case down, but they shut it down in just 34 minutes. They didn’t even pretend that they were going to consider it! This is like asking somebody out and they just shut you down immediately.

“You can’t blame the supreme court for not wanting to get involved in Trump’s case,” Noah added, “because we all have that one friend that when you see them crying, you think, ‘You know, I’m just gonna keep walking. Because if I try to help, it’s gonna become a whole thing …’”

On Full Frontal, Samantha Bee celebrated Trump’s final days in office, although “unfortunately, along with stealing all the copper wiring in the White House, Trump may spend his last days doing what he does best: making sure nobody in his life ever faces consequences”.

The president has reportedly discussed pre-emptive pardons for some of his closest allies, including his three oldest children and son-in-law Jared Kushner, or perhaps even himself.

“Presidential clemency is supposed to correct injustice,” Bee explained, “which, to be fair, some presidents have actually done.” Barack Obama commuted the sentences of hundreds of non-violent drug offenders, Jimmy Carter pre-emptively pardoned Vietnam draft dodgers, and George HW Bush “pre-emptively pardoned his digestive system before vomiting all over the Japanese prime minister.”

“Presidents can use pardons for good, but abusing them doesn’t just protect bad people now, it also influences bad people later,” she added. Ford’s pardon of Nixon, for example, was ostensibly to heal the nation after the bruising Watergate scandal, “but if Nixon had faced real consequences, it could’ve made subsequent administrations think twice before abusing their power. That’s why whether or not Trump pardons himself, states still need to investigate him and his allies.

“It’s not about vengeance, it’s about restoring our faith in institutions and strengthening the guardrails that have barely held over the last four years,” Bee concluded. “Because if we fail to learn from Trump’s attempts to defeat democracy, we’ll have no one but ourselves to blame when the next Republican administration comes along to finish the job he started.”

“January 20 cannot come fast enough,” said Stephen Colbert on Wednesday’s Late Show, as he looked forward to the date when “America will usher in a glorious new era of basic competence” with newly announced, experience-based cabinet appointments. Biden announced this week that Dr Vivek Murthy will serve as his surgeon general and replace “the old surgeon general, a tongue depressor with googly eyes,” Colbert joked.

Meanwhile, “despite Biden’s appointments, our current president continues to deny reality”, Colbert continued, as he reportedly considers mass pardons for staff, even those not accused of any crime. It’s “not really the behavior you expect to see from someone who’s going to be around for another four years”, Colbert explained. “If your 90-year-old grandpa starts taking a trip to Italy, skydives and has a threesome, he’s not crossing items off his ‘live forever’ list.”

And on Late Night, Seth Meyers blasted the president’s bungling of a deal with Pfizer for additional coronavirus vaccines. Because Trump passed on the deal months ago, Pfizer might not have more doses for the US until next June, while America faces potential vaccine shortages amid global competition. “I knew Trump was a shit businessman, but I didn’t realize he was this bad,” Meyers said. “I’m starting to think if you gave him a time machine, he’d go back to the year 2000 and buy stock in apples and Enron.

“Trump championed the vaccine as the one thing he was doing to combat the virus,” Meyers added, “and even that he fucked up. It’s like if the Flash showed up to the Justice League with a pulled hamstring.”

Meyers also recapped a peak Trump-era moment in which Fox News interrupted his campaign-style event for Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s vaccine initiative, to inform viewers of the supreme court’s dismissal of the Trump campaign’s Hail Mary lawsuit to overturn the election in Pennsylvania. “I’m not sure there’s a single moment that captures this farce better,” said Meyers.

“It’s like if halfway through Sesame Street, Big Bird interrupted a song about the alphabet, looked straight into the camera and said: ‘Breaking news, kid. No one likes you, and you’re never going to learn how to spell.”

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