Stephen Colbert on Rittenhouse verdict: ‘If he didn’t break the law, we should change the law’

Late-night hosts discuss the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, Biden’s 79th birthday and Kevin McCarthy’s nine-hour rant

Stephen Colbert

On the Monday before Thanksgiving, Stephen Colbert listed numerous reasons to be thankful this year: “personally, I’m grateful that on Friday, history was made,” when Joe Biden temporarily transferred presidential power to Vice-President Kamala Harris while undergoing a routine colonoscopy, making Harris the first woman to assume presidential power in the US.

“Yes, 100 years after women got the right to vote, we finally got the first female president on a technicality,” the Late Show host said. “Turns out, this whole time, the glass ceiling was up Joe Biden’s butt.”

Colbert also touched on the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, who was found not guilty of intentional homicide for shooting two people dead during anti-racism protests outside Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. “OK, cards on the table: I’m not a legal expert, so I can’t tell you whether or not Kyle Rittenhouse broke the law,” said Colbert. “But I can tell you this: if he didn’t break the law, we should change the law.”

The trial was largely seen as a referendum on white vigilantism, as Rittenhouse, then 17, drove from his home in Illinois with an assault rifle and began patrolling streets after curfew. “If Emily Post said it was perfectly proper to go to Thanksgiving, drop trow, and leave your ass print in the pumpkin pie, I’d be like, ‘OK, not illegal, but the system is clearly broken,’” Colbert added.

The Wisconsin jury found Rittenhouse not guilty, “but only a complete moron would celebrate this clear tragedy by making this guy a hero,” said Colbert. Enter: Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, who tweeted “NOT GUILTY!!!!!!!” when the verdict was released. “Of course, Gaetz has a vested interest in juries finding people not guilty,” Colbert quipped, referring to a federal investigation into the congressman for sex trafficking minors, “especially when it involved a 17-year-old crossing state lines.”

Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy Kimmel acknowledged Biden’s birthday on Saturday, as he became the first president to turn 79 while in office. “To give you a perspective on how old that is, Bill Clinton – remember him? Guy who was president almost 30 years ago? – he’s 75 now,” Kimmel said.

To mark the occasion, Biden received a physical, and “doctors said there were no traces of malarkey, everything looked good,” Kimmel reported. “Or everything looked as good as the inside of an elderly man’s butt can look.”

According White House physician Dr Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s physical revealed a “healthy and vigorous male”.

“Why does every presidential checkup sound like a Cialis ad?” Kimmel wondered. “We need him to run the country, not impregnate our women. Vigorous is unnecessary.”

In other news, with booster shots now authorized for all American adults, still fewer than 60% of Americans have received a Covid vaccine. “Which is low, but that means there are hundreds of millions of people who are vaccinated,” said Kimmel. “So all these anti-vaxxers who said, ‘I’m going to wait and see how it goes?’ It went, OK?”

“Most of us have had the vaccine in us for a year now and it’s fine,” he continued. “We’re not magnetic, we’re not infertile, our testicles aren’t the size of Casaba melons. You wanted us to be guinea pigs? Congratulations, we were. You did it. We’re dumb, you’re smart, now go get the shot.”

Seth Meyers

And on Late Night, Seth Meyers decried the “unhinged Republican party” as embodied by the “hysterical” performance by the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, who delayed a House vote on the Democrats’ social spending bill with a nine-hour speech.

The $1.75tn measure, which passed the House on Friday and is now headed to the Senate, would provide universal pre-K, mandate paid family leave and expand Medicare to include hearing aids. “All that stuff is apparently so unacceptable to McCarthy, he lost his mind in a tantrum that went past 5am while being heckled by Democrats in the back row,” Meyers said.

McCarthy’s meandering and inflamed speech had “the amped-up energy of a fifth-grader telling you about a classmate”, Meyers said: “‘I have a friend and his name is Timmy and he went to the zoo and he met a donkey and the donkey took a big poop and it was so funny!’

“This guy is such a goober – he sounds like a substitute teacher complaining to the principal that his high school class won’t stop chucking things at him,” he added.


Adrian Horton

The GuardianTramp

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