It’s been almost 22 years since “Saturday Night Live” last found itself satirizing a presidential impeachment proceeding, but as the show turned its attention to President Trump’s trial in the Senate, it quickly reverted to its tried-and-true formula: a smidgen of factual detail, a dollop of celebrity cameos and a whole bunch of cultural references that may or may not be germane to the topic.
This weekend’s broadcast, hosted by Adam Driver and featuring the musical guest Halsey, began with a sketch set on Capitol Hill, where Susan Collins (played by Cecily Strong) and Mitch McConnell (Beck Bennett) reflected on the trial to date.
“We all know this impeachment proceeding is a sham and a hoax,” Bennett said. “Republicans are simply requesting a fair trial — no witnesses, no evidence. That way we can acquit President Trump and focus on the real criminals in this country: teenagers who try marijuana.”
Strong said, “The evidence against Trump is pretty damning so I’m still on the fence,” then made an exaggerated wink.
“It’s wonderful to be here,” Lovitz said, “ ‘cause I’m not welcome anywhere else.” He was repeatedly admonished for mentioning past clients he has represented, including Jeffrey Epstein, O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bülow.
Then, abruptly, Lovitz acted out an apparent heart attack and the screen filled with smoke. When it cleared, he found himself in hell, where he was welcomed by Kate McKinnon, playing the devil.
“I used to let nobodies into hell but now it’s all influencers,” McKinnon said.
Among the notorious guests she introduced to Lovitz were Epstein, who was played by Driver.
Driver seemed ever-so-slightly mortified as he replied, “Eh, just hangin’.”
Other visitors to Hades included Bowen Yang as the composer of “Baby Shark”; Heidi Gardner as Flo, the Progressive Insurance mascot; and someone playing Mr. Peanut, the recently deceased brand icon. (As Mr. Peanut explained, “I took out a lot of first graders with peanut allergies. Plus, I never wore pants.”)
Finally, Alex Moffat appeared in his recurring role as Mark Zuckerberg, identified here as hell’s I.T. guy. “I just want everyone to know that I don’t endorse evil,” Moffat said. “I just help millions of people share it.
The first day of President Trump’s impeachment trial didn’t end until close to 2 a.m. on Wednesday, keeping senators up late. Recording devices are not allowed inside the Senate chamber, but a sketch artist captured some of the lawmakers looking less than invested in the proceedings.
“Yeah, some senators are playing with their Apple watches, others are solving crosswords and worst of all, a senator from Idaho fell asleep — like ‘asleep’ asleep. Because you know you’ve been sleeping for a long time when an artist has time to sketch your portrait. That’s sleep.” — TREVOR NOAH, referring to Senator Jim Risch of Idaho
“It’s totally understandable that Senator Risch fell asleep at 5:30 p.m. Wow! Wow! Four and a half hours in — somebody poke him.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“He didn’t just nod off for a second — he was asleep long enough to be hand drawn. Put a glass under his mouth to see if it fogs up a little bit.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“A spokesman said he wasn’t sleeping, he was just listening closely, which is exactly what my grandmother used to say when she was sleeping.” — JIMMY KIMMEL
“You couldn’t help but be moved by the historic nature of the event unless you were Senator Rand Paul, because according to one reporter, every few minutes, Rand Paul keeps flipping through his notebook to do bits of a crossword. [Imitating Rand Paul] Let’s see here, let’s see here: ‘Sackless Trump toady, eight letters’ — oh! Rand Paul!”— STEPHEN COLBERT
“Meanwhile, Adam Schiff looked like he spent the night dropping Adderall into his Four Loko.” — JIMMY FALLON
“He laid out a ton of evidence against the president, much of it sound bites of Trump himself, and he invoked the founding fathers and their words a lot. Schiff quoted Hamilton so many times today, he was nominated for five Tony Awards.” — JIMMY KIMMEL
“It was gratifying to see someone taking the constitutional responsibility of their office seriously. He laid out the case against the president clearly, passionately, cogently and, I believe, courageously. Because whether or not President Trump is removed from office, history will not forgive those who looked the other way at his abuses or forget those who stepped in the breach at this moment of crisis. So, no surprise, the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter was Mr. Peanut.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“Schiff stood there today in front of his audience discussing the president’s corruption and incompetence using graphics, audio and video of witnesses, even clips of Trump incriminating himself. Hey, Schiff, you’re treading on my turf. If I find out you’ve got a house band, I’m suing.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Comments on social media and cable news often give reasons to be angry. Sometimes anger seems to be the whole point. Anger draws Internet clicks, which is to say that many people now have a motive or even a business model for getting you mad. New research asks how all this outrage is affecting our minds. Shankar Vedantam is host of the NPR podcast Hidden Brain, which explores the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)
SHANKAR VEDANTAM: There’s a reason there is so much outrage out there. It’s a very effective way to get your attention. At New York University, psychologist Jay Van Bavel and his team have analyzed more than half a million tweets, specifically those that used moral and emotional language.
JAY VAN BAVEL: Here’s an example tweet from a conservative. (Reading) Gay marriage is a diabolical, evil lie aimed at destroying our nation.
And the moral, emotional words here are evil and destroying. And they’re both negative, highly potent words. From a liberal, we have a tweet – (reading) new Mormon policy bans children of same-sex parents. This church wants to punish children – a question mark. Are you kidding me? Shame.
VEDANTAM: Van Bavel found lots of words generate outrage. Profanities are on the list; so are hate, war and greed.
BAVEL: For every moral, emotional word that people use in a tweet, we found that it increased the rate of retweeting from other people who saw it by 15 to 20%.
VEDANTAM: You don’t need to use the specific words on Van Bavel’s list to generate outrage. You can do it in endless other ways, everything from I can’t believe the president said that to why do you hate freedom so much?
(SOUNDBITE OF UNINTELLIGIBLE CHANTING)
VEDANTAM: A story from earlier this year perfectly encapsulates how outrage captures our minds. In January, a short video taken at the National Mall in Washington went viral. It showed an older Native American man surrounded by teenage boys, nearly all of whom were white. Many wore hats that said Make America Great Again.
JULIE IRWIN ZIMMERMAN: These kids were making fun of this guy because he was Native American, because he had a drum and was chanting something unfamiliar to them.
VEDANTAM: This is Julie Zimmerman, a writer based in Cincinnati, recalling her first reaction to the video.
ZIMMERMAN: It was pretty cringeworthy.
VEDANTAM: By that night, the story was everywhere.
ZIMMERMAN: I talked to a friend of mine, who lives in New York, a former roommate of mine, and she said her yoga teacher called and said, let’s drive to that school in protest. Like, that’s the sort of level of reaction people were having to this. Like, this yoga teacher in New York wanted to hop in the car and drive 10 hours to protest in front of the school.
VEDANTAM: But in the hours that followed, Zimmerman realized that she and many others had gotten the story wrong. A longer video showed that it was the Native American man who had walked up to the teenagers. He was with a large group, not alone. Another group of protesters had been harassing the students.
Three years after taking the oath of office, President Trump has made more than 16,200 false or misleading claims — a milestone that would have been unthinkable when we first created the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement he has uttered.
Peter Lev and Django at the MLK/Django march
From the New York Times bestselling author of The House of the Spirits, this epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home.
“Isabel Allende is a legend and this might be her finest book yet.”—J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Saints for All Occasions
A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA
By Isabel Allende
In January of 1939, after three and a half years of devastating civil war, Francisco Franco defeated Spain’s Republican army at Barcelona, clinching a dictatorship that would last for nearly a half-century and displacing hundreds of thousands of soldiers, activists and Republican supporters. Many fled across the Pyrenees into France thinking they’d escaped the worst, only to find themselves behind barbed wire in concentration camps like Argèles-sur-Mer, “half-dead from cold and hunger.”
Though the larger world seemed as blind to Spain’s displaced population as they’d been to the war itself, the Chilean diplomat and poet Pablo Neruda lobbied to save over 2,000 of the refugees, as many as could fit on a nine-ton cargo ship called the Winnipeg, bound for political asylum. Neruda’s far-reaching humanist act calls to mind Oskar Schindler, and is the little-known kernel of history at the heart of Isabel Allende’s 17th novel, “A Long Petal of the Sea.” Allende, we learn from her author’s note, first heard about Neruda’s “ship of hope” in her childhood, when it caught in her memory and remained there for 40 years. Now she has deftly woven fact and fiction, history and memory, to create one of the most richly imagined portrayals of the Spanish Civil War to date, and one of the strongest and most affecting works in her long career.
Spanning generations and continents, the novel follows an unforgettable pair of exiles granted passage on the Winnipeg: Victor Dalmau, an auxiliary medic in the war, and Roser Bruguera, a young woman carrying the child of Victor’s brother Guillem, missing in action. As the special consul for Spanish emigration, Neruda has been ordered to select candidates clinically, rejecting radicals and any candidates who are overly political or intellectual. His compassion becomes the stronger factor, however, an unexpected blessing for Victor and Roser, who manage to impress the poet with their selflessness and commitment to save the child at any cost.
[ Read an excerpt from “A Long Petal of the Sea.” ]
Victor and Roser marry, a bond that has nothing to do with romantic love, but something far richer and more reliable. As they begin their lives over again with nothing in Santiago, Chile, their partnership grows into deep friendship and emotional symbiosis. Only together, they realize, can they endure what they’ve lost and recover a sense of purpose.
Allende herself is no stranger to exile. Driven from Chile to Venezuela in the 1970s, during the reign of Augusto Pinochet when her name appeared on “wanted” lists, she lived in Venezuela for 13 years to survive. It was there that she began writing “The House of Spirits,” her debut novel and perhaps her best-known work of fiction. Without that displacement, Allende has said, she might never have become a writer.
Civil war can be “a hurricane that destroys a lot in its path,” as one of the characters tells us. But it can also be a powerful force of transformation — both for individuals and for nations. Allende’s personal experience may have served to broaden her perspective and sensitivity when it comes to complex politics and ideologies. Either way, she shows a deft hand and tremendous poise here, creating a story that feels true as well as consequential.
In “A Long Petal of the Sea,” as in much of Allende’s fiction, there is the sense that every human life is an odyssey, and that how and where we connect creates the fabric of our existence: the source of our humanity. If what happens to us — the axis of our fate — is nearly always beyond our control, stubbornly unchangeable, we can still choose what we cleave to and fight for, refusing to be vanquished. This is true belonging, and how we build a world.
SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile, like numerous other countries, has been debating whether to welcome migrants — mostly from Haiti, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela — or to keep them out. Although only half a million immigrants live in this nation of 17.7 million, right-wing politicians have stoked anti-immigrant sentiment, opposed the increased rates of immigration in the past decade and directed bile especially against Haitian immigrants.
Immigration was a major issue in elections here in November and December. The winner was Sebastián Piñera, a 68-year-old center-right billionaire who was president from 2010 to 2014 and will take over in March. Mr. Piñera blamed immigrants for delinquency, drug trafficking and organized crime. He benefited from the support of José Antonio Kast, a far-right politician who has been campaigning to build physical barriers along the borders with Peru and Bolivia to stop immigrants.
Chileans aren’t alone in witnessing growing xenophobia and nativism, but we would do well to remember our own history, which offers a model for how to act when we are confronted with strangers seeking sanctuary.
On Aug. 4, 1939, the Winnipeg set sail for Chile from the French port of Pauillac with more than 2,000 refugees who had fled their Spanish homeland.
On Tuesday, just a day before the House’s articles of impeachment against President Trump were delivered to the Senate, Democrats released new evidence that had been turned over by Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian businessman. He provided handwritten notes (some on Ritz-Carlton stationery) and other records detailing his work with Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine’s president into announcing an investigation of Joe Biden.
“Yesterday, the House Intelligence Committee released materials that they got from Parnas that have been described as ‘a trove of ridiculously incriminating impeachment evidence.’ That’s pretty bad, because when it comes to Trump crime, the scale goes: incriminating, very incriminating, ridiculously incriminating and Rudy on merlot.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“It turns out that one of Rudy Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas, actually wrote a note that said, ‘Get Zelensky to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.’ Trump was furious. He was like, ‘You stayed at the Ritz instead of one of my hotels?’” — JIMMY FALLON
“Seriously? They wrote down the plot of their crime and then kept it? That is a literal paper trail.” — TREVOR NOAH
“You don’t write the crime down, you dummy! It didn’t help that the next note was ‘leave paper trail of impeachable offenses’ and ‘steal Ritz-Carlton stationery.’” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“In the final note, in big, bold letters at the bottom of the page, Parnas writes what is perhaps the most incriminating word of all: ‘Rudy.’ You have to write it down because if you say his name three times, he appears on Fox News and incriminates you in a crime.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“These guys are a lot dumber than the criminals on T.V. Those criminals are always using burner phones and switching cars, meeting in back alleys. In real life, these guys were texting each other and putting up posters on telephone poles that said, ‘Looking for thugs to do crimes. This is for Trump as citizen, not as president. He is my friend, here is picture of us.’” — SETH MEYERS
“Following last night’s debate, Senator Elizabeth Warren appeared to turn down a handshake from Senator Bernie Sanders — also, a foot rub from Joe Biden.” — SETH MEYERS
“Warren accuses Sanders of calling her a liar. Then he says she called him a liar. Look, there is a very easy way to settle this: You’re politicians, you’re both liars.” — JAMES CORDEN
“There’s been a lot of speculation about what was being said. Some said they weren’t arguing, some said she didn’t want to shake Bernie’s hand because it smells like Brylcreem and gefilte fish.” — JIMMY KIMMEL
“Bernie looks like a Delta gate agent who caught someone in zone two trying to board in zone one.” — JIMMY FALLON
“This was the last debate before the Iowa caucus, and if we’re having fights, they should be about how to protect reproductive rights and how to fight gun violence and how Biden looks like he got run through the ‘Irishman’ de-aging machine.” — SAMANTHA BEE
“And by the way, how cute is Tom Steyer? He is like oblivious to the whole tense situation. He‘s just — he’s so cheerful. He’s just like: ‘Wow, what a fun debate, guys. You guys thinking what I am thinking — T.G.I. Fridays? No, Bernie? Applebee’s? What do you want?’” — TREVOR NOAH
“I mean, for socialists they’re not very social.” — JAMES CORDEN