John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight aired the 30th and final episode of its fourth season last night, and the HBO host spent the show preparing us to cope with a Donald Trump presidency until February 2018, when his program returns to the airwaves.
Oliver organizes the segment around the “three key techniques that [Trump] uses to insulate himself from criticism and consequence,” warning that these methods—as opposed to the idiotic and overconfident word soup dribbling out of Trump’s gaping maw at any given moment—are how he stands to do the most lasting damage to our democracy. Trump’s go-to tactics of delegitimizing the media, employing “whataboutism” and outright trolling are becoming the norm in modern-day politics, and as Oliver bluntly puts it, “If that becomes the level of discourse in this country, we are seriously and lastingly fucked.” Oliver recognizes how depressing his dissection of the Trump bullshit machine is, and kindly reminds us that the political landscape is not entirely devoid of hope, though he warns against viewing the Democrats’ recent resounding election victories as laurels for rational people to rest upon.
The segment wraps up with an old chestnut of a metaphor, no less apt for being cliched: “The Trump presidency is basically a marathon,” Oliver says. “It’s painful, it’s pointless and the majority of you didn’t agree to run it—you were just signed up by your dumbest friend.” But we’re running it all the same, with plenty of ground left to cover, and we cannot stop.
Last Week Tonight was renewed through 2020 in September, so Oliver won’t be taking a breather any time soon. Watch last night’s segment above, and settle in for the long wait for February.