Stephen Colbert tore into the Republican party’s continued courting of conspiracy theories on Wednesday, especially the fantastical, dangerous claims made by Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a public backer of the QAnon conspiracy movement who has said school shootings were staged and called for the execution of Democratic leaders. “So, a moderate Republican,” the Late Show host joked.
Greene’s views are extreme enough to have drawn a rebuke this week from Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who called her “loony lies” a “cancer for the Republican Party and our country”.
“Yes, it’s cancer,” Colbert said, “but I will point out that five years ago, the GOP found a suspicious lump, and then nominated the tumor for president”.
Colbert looked even further back, condemning Bush-era Republicans for their past role in harnessing lies for the party’s benefit. Former Bush official Karl Rove, Colbert remembered, once sarcastically referred to critics as “the reality-based community” while guys like him got to “create our own reality”.
“When Rove said that, we all saw where this was headed,” Colbert explained. “Because if that Republican administration could get away with creating their own little space-time continuum with the magic of make believe, it just goes to figure it was only a matter of time before everyone else did it.”
“It’s like the hedge fund bros getting mad at people on Reddit,” he added. “They’re not upset that people are making up some artificially inflated value to game the market, they’re just offended that people who aren’t in their country club are allowed to play now.”
“When it comes to crazy conspiracy theories, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” Colbert said, noting such past GOP-fanned conspiracy flames as Obama’s birth certificate or being a “secret Muslim”, all the way back in 2007. “If crazy conspiracy theories are in fact a cancer on the Republican party, people like Mitch McConnell and Karl Rove have spent the last 20 years selling cigarettes to their base.”
On Late Night, Seth Meyers also address McConnell’s uncharacteristically harsh rebuke of Greene’s “loony lies” as a “cancer” to the GOP. “The key is to make the lies believable, like ‘you can live for eight months on $600,’ or ‘this guy’s name is Mitch,’” Meyers joked over a cropped photo of McConnell in a car. “I mean, you could give this guy a mustache and a Trans Am and he still wouldn’t look like a Mitch.”
Greene responded to McConnell’s dismissal and said “the real cancer” on the party was “weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully”.
“Well at least they can agree that whatever the cancer is, no one should be able to afford the treatment,” Meyers quipped.
In Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow and a longtime Trump ally, whose continued embrace of Trump’s baseless election fraud claims has ostracized him even from rightwing media organizations like Newsmax (organizations likely to be sued by Dominion Voting Systems if they continue to peddle the lies). “You know it’s bad when even Newsmax is like ‘dial it down, buddy,’” Kimmel said.
After playing a particularly delusional clip of Newsmax anchors cutting off a raving Lindell, Kimmel had to wonder: “Has anyone looked into any correlation between My Pillow and QAnon? Because maybe there’s something in those pillows that makes people go insane. Your head is on it for 8 hours every night – the guy who invented them was on crack. Who knows, they might be stuffed with mothballs and thermometer mercury?”
And on the Daily Show, Trevor Noah discussed the video statement released this week by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in which she recounted how she hid behind a bathroom door in her office while Capitol rioters shouted “where is she?” and feared for her life. “Wow, you know, for a lot of us at home, the Capitol riots were basically an action movie on TV,” Noah said. “It was scary and intense and terrifying, but at the end of the day, we were just watching it. But an action movie is very different when you’re actually in the movie.”
“Even just believing you’re going to die is a major trauma,” Noah said, adding that all people who complain “oh, how scared could she really have been?” about AOC should “think about how terrified you get when someone knocks on the bathroom when there isn’t even a riot”.
“I’m glad that AOC shared this story, because many Republicans in Congress would like to just pretend that this shit never happened, that the lives of Congress members and their staff weren’t in danger, and that police officers guarding the Capitol weren’t injured and killed,” he concluded. “But if there’s no accountability, then it becomes easier and easier for it to happen again. And the last thing we need from this action movie is a sequel.”