Thursday marked Joe Biden’s first full day as president, and for the first time in years, Jimmy Kimmel had no Donald Trump Twitter material to mock. “I have to say, it feels good to only have to worry about a deadly pandemic all day,” he said from his living room in Los Angeles, a city currently besieged by the coronavirus.
Kimmel turned to the flurry of executive orders signed during Biden’s first two days, many of which were directly aimed at combatting a pandemic ignored by the Trump White House for the past several months. “What the Biden team is doing right now is like when you open the hood of a car you’ve had in storage, like your Dad’s 67 Shelby GT,” Kimmel said, “and you find that rats got inside and ate all the insulation from the wires and chewed up the upholstery, crapped a little.”
Top of mind on Thursday was a dramatic rescaling of the Trump administration’s vaccine rollout plan, “which will be a challenge”. Kimmel said, “considering the fact that we found out today it does not exist. There was no rollout plan.
“With all these problems, it makes you wonder how Joe Biden is going to find time to watch five hours of Rachel Maddow every day,” Kimmel deadpanned. “That’s what presidents do, right?”
The first day of any new job is stressful, “especially when you’re the new manager and the last guy got called into HR for inappropriate workplace treasoning”, joked Stephen Colbert on the Late Show. Still, Biden got straight to work on Thursday, signing 10 more executive orders to combat the coronavirus, including measures which require masks on planes, buses and airports, boost studies and trials of Covid treatments, and demands more public data on cases and vaccinations. “It’s a new strategy the White House is calling ‘Operation: Well, Duh,’” joked Colbert.
The administration also announced regular, expert-led, science-based briefings to keep the public abreast of their progress, “which will be a nice change from moron-led, Clorox-based dexamethasone ramblings”, Colbert said.
As for the vaccine rollout plan, Amazon has offered to help with distribution. “Oh thank God, I can’t wait to get a 3ft box that just has one syringe rattling around inside,” Colbert joked. “Or better yet, send up one of those drones and let it shoot a needle directly into my neck.”
Biden inherited a country in desperate straits, with a worsening pandemic and news that 900,000 Americans filed for unemployment last week. “Which means this is now the second time in 12 years Biden has been part of an administration that inherited an economy in smoldering ruins from a Republican predecessor,” said Seth Meyers on Late Night. “Biden’s like the grandpa who sits quietly in the recliner all day reading the newspaper but then when it gets too cold, you have to ask him to chop the firewood because no one else knows how.”
The Trump administration, according to Biden sources, had abandoned even the semblance of a vaccine rollout plan – “there is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch,” a Biden official told CNN. “This is criminal,” Meyers responded. “I mean, my God, they knew this was coming, and they did nothing. Was the point of Warp Speed to go as fast as possible before crashing into a brick wall?
“The Trump administration had a year, and they didn’t even sit down and draw up a plan,” he said. “Was coronavirus taskforce leader Mike Pence in storage during that whole time? Was Dr Birx lost in a pile of scarves?
“Although I guess it’s better to just write your own plan than rework whatever the hell Trump would’ve come up with,” Meyers added. “It’s like fixing a birthday cake after putting your kid in charge of making it – you can add as much sugar as you want, but there’s nothing you can do about that ketchup icing.”
Day 1: All Biden has to do is have a vaccine plan and not lie for ten minutes, and he's basically the next George Washington. pic.twitter.com/hixzdNCLz1
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) January 22, 2021
And on the Daily Show, Trevor Noah commended Biden for clearing the admittedly low expectations of merely trying to help. “Joe Biden is so lucky, all he has to do is have a vaccine plan, and not lie for 10 minutes, and he’s basically, what, the next George Washington?” he said. “This is only thanks to Donald Trump for setting the bar so low. It’s like getting hired as a babysitter and your predecessor was a Roomba covered in knives – you’re going to be better.”
Noah also pushed back on the desire to erase Trump from the national psyche and “return to normalcy” in Washington – Trump did not appear in a taped segment of “former presidents” aired during the Celebrating America inaugural special, and newscasters such as Anderson Cooper appeared to go out of their way to not mention his name on air. “I understand that people want to pretend Trump didn’t exist, but the truth is, he did,” Noah said. “Not only did he exist, but his presidency was historic.
“Like, you may not realize it because we’re living it, but guys, he sent a mob to ransack the Capitol,” he added. “People are going to be talking about this guy forever. We’re living in a history book right now! In like a hundred years, there are going to be musicals about this Trump era.”