Elections

Stephen Colbert asks President Obama, Bill O'Reilly about the election - in very different ways

“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” with guest Bill O’Reilly. (Scott Kowalchyk, CBS)
“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” with guest Bill O’Reilly. (Scott Kowalchyk, CBS)

President Barack Obama and Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly were both guests on “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Monday night. For those wondering how that backstage conversation might go, their paths never actually crossed: Colbert taped an interview with Obama last week at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, while O’Reilly was in the “Late Show” New York studio on Monday.

The presidential race obviously came up during both segments — and Colbert asked about the topic in two very different ways.

Obama’s interview was really a sketch, as Colbert played an office manager named “Randy” who helped Obama sharpen his interview skills for his next gig after the White House. (Obama: “I’m leaving because it’s required by the 22nd amendment of the United States Constitution.” Colbert: “When you say staying at your job would be unconstitutional, what employers hear is that you stole office supplies.”)

Between Colbert’s shenanigans, Obama urged young people to vote on Election Day. Colbert eventually brought up the presidential race, without mentioning the names of the candidates.

“Because we are on a network television show I cannot allow you to endorse a candidate right now, but I would like to ask you about your choice of snacks,” Colbert said, holding up both options. “Would you care for an extra-fiber nutrient bar which has traveled to more than 100 countries — or this shriveled tangerine covered in golden retriever hair filled with bile that I wouldn’t leave alone with the woman I love?”

“I think I’ll go with the fiber nutrient bar,” Obama told him.

O’Reilly’s interview was much more straightforward, as he stopped by to talk about his new book and the third presidential debate on Wednesday, which will be moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace. The election came up as soon as O’Reilly sat down.

“Bill, what the hell is going on? Do you understand what’s going on? ... Is this election rigged?” Colbert asked. “Trump isn’t saying it might be rigged, he’s saying it is rigged. Is it rigged?”

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“No,” O’Reilly assured him. “But it’s not a traditional election.” He continued: “Everybody’s angry in the country, everybody’s mad. So we’re living in a time in history which is a divided nation -”

“Not everybody’s angry,” Colbert broke in. “Some people are angry, some people are scared, some people are -”

“Disenchanted,” O’Reilly offered.

“Or disgusted,” Colbert said, as the studio audience laughed.

O’Reilly went on: “You have two polarized candidates. You have Secretary Clinton who has a long history of being controversial. And then you have the new guy comes in and he wipes out all the traditional politicians, Trump. Because people are angry at the traditional politicians. It wasn’t that he did anything so extraordinary, it was they hated everybody else and they just didn’t know him as a politician.”

Colbert asked if Trump was “whining” too much with his “rigged election” claims. “Nobody really cares about the ‘rigged’ stuff, and he wastes a lot of time doing that,” O’Reilly said.

The two went on to discuss other subjects, including whether GOP vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence is, as Colbert puts it, “the saddest man in the world”; O’Reilly’s earlier claims that there are three media organizations that have been “ordered to destroy Trump”; and what Fox News Channel is like post-Roger Ailes. For the record, O’Reilly said it’s a little more “decentralized.”

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