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The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (Screenshot: CBS)

After more than a year of essentially calling Donald Trump a moron every night on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, it has to be gratifying for Colbert to get some backup from a senior Trump administration official. According to an NBC news report, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of quitting after Trump turned the ceremonial layup that was speaking at a Boy Scout rally into something more reminiscent of a sleazy uncle’s version of a Hitler Youth rally, Tillerson is reported to have disparaged Trump’s intelligence vociferously enough that intervention from human glass of homophobic warm milk Mike Pence was called in to smooth things over. Sure, Colbert called territorial dibs, claiming “No one calls our president a moron but me,” but, in his Wednesday monologue, he was all too happy to give Tillerson his due.

In a totally not-mandatory press conference and loyalty oath, Tillerson denied ever trying to resign, claiming he’s as committed to the job as the first day he took it. Colbert, citing Tillerson’s remarks after getting the Secretary of State gig that he didn’t want the job at all and only took it because his wife urged him to, suggested that that’s probably pretty accurate. And, as for that whole “moron” thing, Tillerson, when asked directly at his completely voluntary presser that didn’t at all look like a hostage video if he’d ever used the term in reference to Donald Trump, gave the least-denial denial of all time, mumbling something about not answering petty questions. You know, like about whether the United States is led by a dimwitted, megalomaniacal ego-monster who’s routinely mocked behind his back by his senior staff. “Yeah, he totally said it,” deadpanned Colbert, although the host did echo Trump’s inevitable Twitter-dump demand for an apology from NBC, since, as it turns out, the NBC sources actually reported that Tillerson called Trump not a “moron,” but a “fucking moron.”


As for the NBC story, Trump naturally whipped the “fake news” tag on the very idea that anyone, let alone his own Secretary of State, could conceivably think him less than the brilliant tactical and intellectual force he claims to be at literally every opportunity. And, hey, we don’t know. It’s not like the Trump White House has been leaking like a beginners’ class rowboat since he took office, or that a significant majority of those leaks have turned out to be right on the money, or that the NBC story cites more than a dozen high-ranking sources, unlike the internet rantings of Trump pal and sweaty fabulist Alex Jones. Nor is it strictly relevant that Trump, on a day where he publicly expressed confidence in Tillerson, undermined his chief diplomat by calling Tillerson’s efforts to negotiate with North Korean leader and nuclear frayed wire Kim Jong-un “a waste of time,” capping his inconceivably inflammatory rhetoric with yet another middle school insult. Nor is it in any way corroborating to the moron theory that Colbert played a clip of Republican Senator and current chair of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Bob Corker stating how important it is that Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Chief of Staff John Kelly stay on the job because, “These are the people that help separate our country from chaos.” Asked Colbert, incredulously, of a country where there’s a certified moron in the White House, “You’re saying this isn’t chaos yet?”

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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