When “failson-in-chief” Andrew Giuliani, the son of disgraced former New York City mayor and Donald Trump flunky Rudy Giuliani, announced a fool’s bid to be the next governor of New York, it was open season for comedians, talk show hosts, and pundits. Even Fox News seemed to raise an eyebrow over Giuliani’s thin resume—he’s never held elected office—while interviewing him.
On Sunday night’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, John Oliver took aim at the delusional gall of Giuliani’s attempt to unseat Andrew Cuomo. But he also examined the larger culture of clowns leaving the circus for political office—and succeeding—and the doom that spells.
Oliver first went after Giuliani’s Fox News claim, chock full of dubious math, asserting his political credentials. “I may be 35 years old. But you have to remember, I spent parts of 32 years in politics and in government,” Giuliani said on air. “I mean I’m the only announced candidate that actually spent parts of five decades in politics.’”
“Do you think you look young?” Oliver mocked. “Because if I had to guess your age, I’ll put you somewhere between ‘unhealthy 45 and lying about early retirement to avoid a sexual harassment scandal from becoming public.’” After showing a photo of Matt Gaetz to punctuate that joke, he went on, “Also, what would you like to bring in politics since you were three years old, unless you’re counting being violently held by your father during his 1989 mayoral campaign?”
Giuliani’s actual resume includes a stint working as a special assistant in the Trump White House, where reportedly he played a part in organizing visits from sports teams and, as Oliver spotlighted, an alleged career as a professional golfer. In reality, that seems to mostly have meant appearing in a reality TV golfing competition called The Big Break, on which he was portrayed as being absolutely insufferable.
Oliver showed a supercut of other contestants on the series, which aired on The Golf Channel in 2003, whining about how unbearable he was. “Andrew Giuliani is a nightmare,” Oliver said. “Imagine being the worst person on a golf reality show.”
Plus, the host added, people like those mostly rich, white contestants should be the only ones buying the snake oil-via-nepotism that Giuliani is peddling to voters. (In a statement, Giuliani likened his hopeful gubernatorial face-off against Cuomo to “Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier.”)
“It’s hard to imagine Giuliani winning the support of the entire state of New York,” Oliver said. “But it seems he couldn’t even win the support of all these future absentee fathers. In other words, his base.”
Jokes aside, Oliver warned not to dismiss Giuliani as a sideshow distraction. “Yes, Andrew Giuliani is ridiculous. All these candidates are ridiculous. But if the last years have taught us anything, it’s that ridiculous people can end up getting elected.”
Giuliani’s run for governor was featured in the segment alongside Charles Peruto, a bombastic blowhard who seems to be obtuse about race who is running for Philadelphia District Attorney, and Mark McCloskey, the man who brandished a gun on Black Lives Matter marchers alongside his wife in St. Louis and is apparently turning his self-aggrieved viral fame into a Senate campaign.
On an earlier 2018 episode of Last Week Tonight, Oliver ran a segment on states’ district attorneys, and briefly spotlighted the behavior of Angela Paxton, the wife of Texas D.A. Ken Paxton. Then, she was singing songs at rallies about being a “pistol-packing woman” whose husband sues Barack Obama.
Since that aired, Angela Paxton was elected to the Texas State Senate. When Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a controversial abortion bill that could potentially lead to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, she was standing smiling right behind him in the ceremonial photo.
“Yes, these people look like clowns. They are clowns,” Oliver said. “But it’s important to remember that clowns, while funny, are also fucking terrifying.”