With the chaos at the Trump White House mounting every single day to what seems like an inevitable flashpoint involving a constitutional crisis, impeachment, indictment, diversionary declaration of war, or simply a White House staffed with no one but Trump relatives and their wedding planners, it’s tempting to look ahead to the theoretically more stable prospect of President Mike Pence. But, as John Oliver lays out in the main story of Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, be very fucking careful what you wish for.
Oliver, calling Pence “the opposite of whatever a silver fox is” (settling on “ashen weasel”), takes a hard, typically incisive and hilariously pissed off look at exactly how extreme the positions of the (current) Vice President are. From his vocal opposition to women in the military, his prayer-based non-response to an HIV outbreak in Indiana when he was governor, to his ongoing abetting and excusing of literally every ignorant, hateful, or outright lunatic and untrue thing that dribbles out of his boss’ mouth, Oliver presents a portrait of a man whose outward appearance of un-Trump-ian sanity barely conceals the frothing, right wing loon within. Especially when it comes to the LGBTQ community, where Pence’s long history of bigotry includes overt, verifiable support of one James Dobson and the organization Focus on the Family, your go-to zealots for “shock ‘em ‘til they’re not gay anymore” “conversion therapy.”
Still, John Oliver is nothing if not a man of his word, so, in keeping with the segment’s initial promise to find one nice thing to say about Mike Pence (of the stated desire for businesses to deny service to homosexuals on religious grounds and call for abortion rights to be consigned to “the ash heap of history”), he conceded that Mike Pence has a lovely bunny. Not a euphemism, Oliver expressed admiration for the Pence family’s pet, a floppy, hoppy rabbit with the undeniably awesome moniker “Marlon Bundo.” (One is tempted to point out that Marlon’s actor namesake was bisexual, if the image of the poor little guy with electrodes strapped to his head in some sort of gay animal conversion facility didn’t come to mind.) Still, with Pence’s upcoming book tour in support of his children’s book about his fuzzy li’l pal (also not a euphemism) making a stop at Focus on the Family headquarters, Oliver, pissed that Pence’s bigotry can even fuck up Marlon Bundo, presented his rebuttal. A star-studded, sweet, charity-minded rebuttal in the form of the show’s own kids’ book, A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo.
Noting how his cute, happily gay bunny protagonist differs from Pence’s pal (he has a bow tie, for one), Oliver also notes that all sales of his book will benefit the LGBT advocacy organization The Trevor Project and health organization AIDS United, and that the audio version of A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo features the talents of people like Jim Parsons, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ellie Kemper, RuPaul, and John Lithgow (as the ranting, homophobic stink bug out to keep Marlon and his boyfriend from getting married). Announcing that the book would go on sale at the moment Sunday’s show aired, Oliver also unveiled the domain names (betterbundobook.com and focusonthefurmily.com) he’s bought to steer people away from Pence and his homophobic buddies and toward what he assures parents is a genuine, heartwarming, and life affirming book for all kids, without exception. It’s all in line with Last Week Tonight’s history of prankish online activism, or what Oliver terms, “doing a nice thing in a really dickish way.”