Stephen Colbert celebrated the end of the 45th presidency and more importantly the start of the Biden administration with a special live edition of “The Late Show” just hours after Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in. And, reflecting (we assume with absolute confidence) the thoughts of a whole lot of Americans — at least 81 million — he joked that “it’s so nice to have a president with a soul again.”
That comment came during his opening monologue as Colbert recapped the events of the say — the aforementioned inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Near the start, Colbert joked that Americans, having turned out in droves to defend democracy, won a prize: “A shiny new old president.” The joke of course being that at 78, Biden is by far the oldest person ever to become president for the first time. He’s even older than Ronald Reagan was when he left office after two terms.
But back to Colbert. Later in the monologue he brought up the moment in Biden’s inauguration speech when he quoted Lincoln, who after signing the Emancipation Proclamation said: “If my name ever goes down into history, it’ll be for this act. And my whole soul is in it. My whole soul is in it.”
Biden, after reciting this, said, “today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this.”
“It’s so nice to have a president with a soul again. The previous one sold his to the devil and didn’t even get Georgia out of the deal,” Colbert joked.
Colbert continued to recount the day’s events. For instance, he remarked that Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, look like “a presidential couple holding hands in a way that doesn’t look contractually mandated.”
Later, after playing a clip of Lady Gaga singing the national anthem, when she reached “and the flag was still there,” Colbert said: “And surprise! The flag was still there! Rarely is that song a cliffhanger, but just two weeks ago, in that spot, it was in danger of being replaced by a Rambo photoshop.” Colbert was of course referencing the violent, deadly seditious riot the previous president incited in a thankfully failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
Then Colbert referenced something a lot of people joked about, the very old timey bible Biden took his oath on. “Joseph R Biden took the oath of office with his hand on what appeared to be the Bible: Director’s Cut Extended Edition. It’s got all the extra Jesus,” he joked.
Colbert also talked about the moment when Biden, in what will hopefully be a one-time event for a US president, had to address that deadly insurrection explicitly.
“Here we stand. Just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever,” Biden said during his inauguration speech.
“Stirring words that I hope the rioters hear,” Colbert added. “On the TV in the prison day room.”
Later, Colbert brought up the universally praised moment when poet Amanda Gorman recited her work during the inauguration, and joked about the previous President’s supporters that “the closest they came to poetry was ‘high coup.'” Zing!
Watch the whole clip above.