Stephen Colbert on Biden fist-bumping MBS: ‘Boom go the ethics’

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The Guardian

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert returned from two weeks of vacation on Monday evening, as western Europe endured a record-setting heatwave. “This is a nightmare for Europeans,” the Late Show host said. “They don’t have a lot of air conditioning over there, and how can they possibly cool off? Those swimsuits can’t possibly get any smaller!”

In the UK, residents braced for the hottest day on record, and “to stay cool, the guards at Buckingham Palace have waxed their hats,” Colbert joked.

In US news, the January 6 committee learned last week that the Secret Service erased text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, after oversight officials asked them to be handed over. The justification for why the messages got erased has shifted several times, from “device replacement program” to “pre-planned system migration” and then “dog ate our phones, our phones are going through a tunnel and finally, ‘new phone, who dis?’” Colbert joked.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden toured the Middle East and met with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom Biden once referred to as a “pariah” for his role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. “This was always going to be a touchy trip because the crown prince is infamously, and I’m putting it delicately here, a murderer,” said Colbert. “But on the other hand, gas is 5 bucks a gallon, so …”

“It was important that Biden put a lot of thought into how he would greet MBS,” he continued. Biden opted for a fist bump instead of the standard handshake, “and … boom go the ethics,” said Colbert.

Trevor Noah

“It’s funny how President Biden thought it would be better to fist bump Mohammed bin Salman because that seems … less friendly than a handshake?” said Trevor Noah on Monday’s Daily Show. “That’s the whitest decision of all time. Because it’s the opposite: handshakes are the most formal way to meet someone.”

“Even with your enemy you can be like, ‘hello,’ he continued, miming a handshake. “But fist bumps is like, ‘ehhhh, what’s up!’”

“You know what I really think happened? I think Joe Biden’s team briefed him, and they’re like ‘Mr President, in Saudi Arabia, if you make them mad, and you have, they’ll chop off your hand, so, uh, hide your fingers.’”

The moment was especially awkward, Noah explained, because Biden minced no words when referring to the crown prince during the 2020 presidential campaign. As he said during one presidential debate: “Khashoggi was in fact murdered and dismembered. And I believe at the order of the crown prince. There’s very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia. We are going to make them, in fact, pay the price, and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.”

“Awkward,” said Noah. “How do you go from that to flying across the world to meet the guy in his palace?”

Seth Meyers

And on Late Night, Seth Meyers also ripped Biden for his fist bump with MBS. “Now, I know you did that because you didn’t want to be seen shaking his hand, but a fist bump is way worse,” said Meyers. “At least with a handshake you might think, ‘Well, it’s two world leaders, like it or not, but that’s standard enough.’ But a fist bump makes it look like he just hit a home run in the company softball game.”

Meyers then turned to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s trial for contempt of Congress, which is set to begin this week after the recent completion of jury selection. “I’m sorry, but even if you’ve never heard of Steve Bannon, how could you look at this guy and be fair and impartial,” he said. “Even if I had no idea who he was, I’d take one look at him and assume, at best, he’d been arrested for stealing a seaplane in the Florida Keys or maybe illegally selling soft drinks on the sidewalk in Times Square.”

“Also, if you’re thinking to yourself ‘wasn’t Steve Bannon already arrested for a different crime? The answer is yes,” he said. “He was charged with defrauding Trump supporters as part of a scam fundraiser to build the wall, and was arrested on a fugitive Chinese billionaire’s yacht by postal service cops before Trump pardoned him – yet another series of words that’s both insane and will be mostly forgotten to history because too much other crazy shit has happened.”

July 19, 2022 at 08:57PM Guardian staff

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