When the news broke earlier in the day that U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama, sexual assaulter of underage girls (allegedly), and noted bigot (empirically) Roy Moore had taken umbrage at a satirical stunt by Jimmy Kimmel Live! writer Tony Barbieri (as his Sacha Baron Cohen-style provocateur character, Jake Byrd), the defiantly folksy, pistol-packin’ Moore followed Donald Trump’s lead and strapped on his Twitter account. Issuing what sounded like the sort of “say that to my face” challenge beloved of fronting schoolyard bullies everywhere, Moore essentially dared big city showbiz fancy-pants Jimmy Kimmel to come to tough guy central, Alabama, for a showdown. Well, on Thursday’s show, Kimmel led off by accepting Moore’s carefully worded (so as not to be actionable) challenge, even though Moore probably shouldn’t take Kimmel up on it, considering the host’s stipulations.
Noting that Moore—a twice-fired former judge who has, among other things, claimed that women shouldn’t run for public office—was once banned from a local mall for pestering underage girls while he was a thirty-ish assistant district attorney, Kimmel announced in his monologue that he’d meet Moore at the mall food court—with a high school cheerleading squad. “If you somehow can control yourself,” Kimmel said, he’ll sit down with Moore at the food court so the two can talk about the “Christian values” that Moore claims Kimmel was mocking by calling out Moore’s thoroughly documented (despite inept conservative rat-fucking) predilection for “forcing [him]self on teenage girls.” Kimmel, citing his own lifelong Christianity, asked Moore which part of their shared faith instructed the rabidly homophobic, Islamophobic Moore to forego the whole “confess your sins and ask for forgiveness thing” in favor of calling the eight women who have accused him (as of this writing) liars.
As to Moore’s (again, carefully phrased) implication that he’s spoiling for some down-home, Alabama-style fisticuffs, Kimmel claimed to be ready for that too, responding, “There is no one I’d like to like to fight more than you.” Here, too, Kimmel had terms—the host will wear a Girl Scout outfit (“So you have something to get excited about”), and all admission fees will go to Moore’s accusers—that the shockingly still front-running candidate is unlikely to accept. Still, as with Barbieri’s juvenile but effective stunt (which saw Moore supporters agreeing with the fictional Byrd’s ridiculous absolution of the candidate to an illuminating degree), Kimmel publicly accepting Moore’s threat at face value forces the spotlight onto the charges against Moore in a way Moore probably should have thought through a little better. As it stands, Kimmel responded to Moore’s ill-advised weak initial jab with a pretty devastating comic counterpunch.