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Mace & Crown | March 26, 2017

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How John Oliver is Disproving Trump with Jokes and Facts

How John Oliver is Disproving Trump with Jokes and Facts
Shannon Jay
Staff Writer

While comedian and former “Daily Show” correspondent John Oliver provides plenty of belly laughs on HBO’s satirical weekly roundup “Last Week Tonight,” he also uses the platform to provide well-researched segments on topics generally unpleasant to talk about. Oliver has played devil’s advocate on sensitive issues from abortion to the dark side of the prison systems for more than two seasons.

On last week’s episode, Oliver spent 18 minutes breaking down the practicality of Trump’s campaign centerpiece – the wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The business mogul estimates the wall’s total costs span from three to 12 billion dollars and suggests a height between 35 and 90 feet. After two former Mexican presidents said that Mexico would not pay for the “stupid wall,” Trump added another 10 feet.

“Things don’t get bigger just because you’re angry,” noted Oliver.

Breaking down the costs of labor and supplies for Trump’s shortest estimate, Oliver suggested the wall’s actual cost would be upwards of $25 billion – a number that maintenance costs would exceed within seven years. Oliver also exemplified several problematic aspects of George W. Bush’s Secure Fence Act, which broke down the efficiency of the presidential candidate’s wall. He disproved the xenophobia fueling Trump’s project, stating immigrants have been found to be less – not more – crime prone than native-born citizens.

“This wall is about making us feel safer,” said Oliver, combating its true effectiveness.

For the past few months, Oliver has tried to avoid Trump’s role in the 2016 election. The entrepreneur’s win in three state caucuses and endorsement from former presidential candidate Chris Christie, however, forced Oliver to showcase Trump’s hypocrisy. Oliver compared Trump to a mole on your back, in the sense that Trump’s campaign seemed harmless at first, but now that it’s gotten bigger, it is no longer wise to ignore.

First, Oliver dissected Trump voters’ reasons for supporting the former reality show star. They see the businessman as a tough, independent, symbol of success and truthful guy who “tells it like it is.”

Oliver disbands Trump’s tough facade by pointing out his sensitive body image. In 1988, Spy magazine printed that the mogul was a “short-fingered vulgarian.” More than 20 years later, editor Graydon Carter still receives envelopes every now and then from Trump, enclosed with photos of himself with his hands circled to highlight the true length of his fingers, noting in gold Sharpie: “See, not so short.”

“So quintessential Donald Trump,” said Oliver on Trump’s choice in writing utensil, “something that gives the passing appearance of wealth, but is actually just a cheap tool.”

Trump claims to be truly independent and self-funded. However, Oliver pointed out that Trump’s campaign site features not one, but two “Donate Now” buttons. He showed clips of Trump patronizing supporters’ donations, regarding portions of the $7.5 million contributions as “cute.”

Trump’s name is synonymous with business success, and as Oliver showed, his current net worth is claimed to exceed 10 billion dollars. Oliver cited Timothy O’Brien’s book “Trump Nation” when stating his worth is closer to $150-250 million. A quote from Trump said that his worth fluctuates due to his “feelings, even [his] own feelings, and that can change from day to day.” Taking into consideration Trump’s criticism of women’s PMSing, these comments about his moody bank account are especially ironic.

Trump supporters say the mogul’s name is unanimous with stability and vitality. While Trump values his own name at $3 billion, his numerous ventures such as vodka, steak, two folded magazines and a university – which he’s now being sued for – have failed. Oliver points out Trump’s biggest failed ventures in real estate. He started a mortgage company in 2006 at the turn of the housing crisis, and disowned several condo projects, putting blame on developers.

While Trump supporters love how he “tells it like it is,” 76 percent of his statements are varying degrees of false according to PolitiFact. Trump is also inconsistent on his personal policies, with opinions on various topics such as guns, abortion and immigration. The very probable Republican nominee even claimed to identify as a Democrat in 2004.

Not only is the frontrunner inconsistent with his opinion, but also with his own statements. When David Duke – a man Trump had previously referred to as a bigot – supported the entrepreneur, Trump said recently on CNN’s State of the Union he had “no idea” about the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Trump also retracted statements he’d made on Twitter in 2013 about Jon Stewart’s name change, where he claimed the former Daily Show host should be “proud of his heritage.”

Oliver points out the irony in Trump’s tweet, spawning a hashtag that shot the segment into infamy. In Gwenda Blair’s biography on three generations of the Trump family, the mogul’s original family name was formally Drumpf. Oliver asked users to hashtag #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain to shake the businessman of his famous name, ubiquitous with success.


“If he’s actually gonna be the republican nominee,” Oliver said, “it’s time to stop thinking of the mascot, and start thinking of the man.”