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John Oliver Calls Donald Trump’s Election Loss a ‘Reverse 9/11’

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver told Stephen Colbert last week that he “nearly burst into tears” while voting in the presidential election for the first time as a U.S. citizen, but little did he know at the time just how wild the next several days would become. Oliver recapped it all on last night’s episode of his HBO show, covering everything from how various judges ruled on the Trump campaign’s desperate lawsuit attempts against the states (“the single sassiest week in the history of the judiciary”) to Joe Biden’s ultimate win to everyone celebrating Trump’s loss in the streets on Saturday. “It was like that all day here in New York. There was a mood here that can only be described as a reverse 9/11,” Oliver said. “Why? ’Cause it combined complete euphoria and abiding disgust for Rudy Giuliani, and this time, people were actually dancing on the rooftops in New Jersey. It was a really good day! Never forget.”

“After this absolute year of a week — these days of counting, the misinformation, the desperate, pathetic attempts to paint this process as fraudulent — the fact is Trump lost this election. He lost! All that bullshit which we’ve grown accustomed to seeing work did not work this time,” Oliver said. After explaining that “by temperament, I am inclined to overanalyze everything,” Oliver momentarily resisted the urge to be cynical about what a Biden presidency might look like and instead took a little time to appreciate what just happened. “Before we get into anything negative at all, let me just give us all a quick moment, with no caveats, of celebration. In fact, let’s put 30 seconds on the clock right now, during which time everyone can just experience joy in whatever form you want,” he said. “Personally, I want to do one of my favorite activities, which is dispensing excellent facts about octopuses over people celebrating this election.” (Did you know that if you give octopuses ecstasy, they’ll hang out and party with each other? That’s true, apparently!)

Soon after Oliver’s 30 seconds of octopus facts, he returned to reality to address one thing that can’t be denied: Trump and his millions of voters aren’t going anywhere. After playing a clip of Biden proclaiming that Trump’s attempts to divide the country is “not who we are,” Oliver pushed back. “Look, that is a really nice sentiment, but dividing America based on race, religion, gender, and national origin has frequently been very much who we are,” he said. After noting how historic Kamala Harris becoming vice-president is as a Black and South Asian woman — and the fact that she’s the second Black person to be voted to the White House in the last 12 years since Barack Obama — Oliver again pulled things back to reality. “That’s incredible. Unfortunately, we did elect a white supremacist in between them. And the fact is that all of that together is kind of who we are. We are the country that did all those things, and it’s important to not deny that reality.”

After running through some local and national triumphs from the election — including the glory that is no more Jared Kushner in the White House — Oliver ended on a celebratory note. “There will be big systemic institutional problems we need to talk about in the months and the years to come. And we will, because for some reason, this is the life I’ve chosen,” he said. “But for now, after what’s just happened, I frankly think that we have all earned the right to put on our masks, go outside, and party like octopuses on fucking ecstasy.”

John Oliver Calls Trump’s Election Loss a ‘Reverse 9/11’