Comedy Central’s The Opposition With Jordan Klepper continues to stretch itself to fill the ironic performative satire gap left when Stephen Colbert decamped for CBS. Klepper has ably cranked his Daily Show lacrosse bro Republican persona to eleven as the conspiracy-spouting, Alex Jones-esque ringmaster of the series’ nightly simulacrum of intellectually dishonest right-wing punditry and provocation. But even Klepper’s smirking faux assholery has its limits, as evidenced by his response to Monday’s interview guest, human rights advocate and Vladimir Putin critic Bill Browder.
After Browder (once the largest foreign investor in Putin’s Russia) laid out not only the Russian leader’s suspected torture and murder of Browder’s friend and lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, but also Putin’s vindictive (and “sadistic,” according to Browder) ban on adoptions of needy Russian children by Americans, the normally pugnacious Klepper could only stammer out that, yeah, that’s all pretty bad. (He did manage to assure Browder that Donald Trump would certainly take care of all that in his second term, for sure.) The unassuming-looking Browder—proclaimed both an enemy of the state by Putin and “Putin Enemy No. 1” by GQ—has become one of Vladimir Putin’s most uncompromising critics, and didn’t hold back in describing the man widely suspected of undermining the 2016 presidential election (not to say American democracy) as “a homicidal sociopath who wishes us terrible things.” Responding to Klepper’s quoting of Donald Trump’s preference for friendship with the Russian president, Browder followed that up, saying, “If that’s the kind of friend you want, great.”
Browder shed light on the Magnitsky Act (passed after his friend was beaten to death following nearly a year of torture after uncovering massive Russian government corruption), and just why Putin is so anxious to have it done away with. Calling Putin “the richest man in the world,” Browder told Klepper that the Magnitsky Act, which—among other things—seizes assets of foreign officials involved in human rights violations, could be used to take hold of the billions of dollars in illicit cash Browder claims Putin has squirreled away in the United States and elsewhere. And while Browder didn’t mention the Trump clan by name, he was scornful of the idea that the infamous meetings between current dumbest Trump child, Donald Jr, and Putin-linked figures at Trump Tower were the feel-good pro-adoption summits li’l Donnie would like us to believe. Saying Putin’s prime concern with the Magnitsky Act is to secure the fortune he spent “17 years of stealing, imprisoning, and killing to accumulate,” Browder told Klepper that there’s no negotiating with the person he holds responsible for countless atrocities. “He’s an unappeasable guy,” asserted Browder, who Putin recently accused of being a “serial killer” himself, in news that in no way makes the Russian president sound like a desperate, dangerous loon. “He just laughs at people who try to appease him,” concluded Browder, once again taking an unnamed shot at one Donald Trump, who just this month, took Putin’s word on that whole Trump-Russia collusion business. Of course, Trump is also currently taking Roy Moore’s word on that whole “molesting underage girls” thing, so no doubt everything’s going to be just fine.