And the losses of both designer Kate Spade and chef/TV host Anthony Bourdain were just part of a very busy week that included Samantha Bee apologizing for her Ivanka Trump statements, former Senate Intelligence Committee security director James Wolfe being charged with lying to investigators, and former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort being accused of witness tampering in the special counsel investigation. Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian convinced President Trump to grant clemency to Alice Johnson, and now he’s talking about pardoning Muhammad Ali even though Ali’s conviction was overturned in 1971. It really has been a week, people. Read on for more.
It’s Called the G7, Not the Gr8, Amirite?
What Happened: The G7 Summit has arrived in Canada, bringing with it the whirling dervish that is international diplomacy in the age of Donald Trump. The forecast? Cloudy with a chance of What the hell is even happening?
What Really Happened: This weekend marks the beginning of the 44th G7 Summit, a meeting of the leaders of seven of the largest advanced economies in the world. It’s being held in Quebec, Canada, which can only mean one thing: Canadian pride!
Not to worry; the first night’s protests were mostly peaceful, despite some reports to the contrary. But still! It’s the G7 Summit! This is a big deal, especially considering the important subjects under discussion: a potential plastics charter and the looming trade war between participants. Still: diplomacy! Who isn’t excited by diplomacy?!
OK, but is there anyone not excited about diplomacy aside from the President of the United States, who apparently doesn’t like to visit Canada? Maybe not, but earlier in the week the president did try to portray himself as less grumpy about traveling north and more ready for a fight.
Still, surely the rest of the G7—that’s Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom, for those who are curious—is going to bow to the United States’ whims on this, as on all things. After all, the US is the dominant world economy, right?
OK, sure; the summit looked set to push the US to the side of international diplomacy before it had even started, with Trump even going so far as to announce he would leave early, because … people weren’t being nice enough to him? This is all going swimmingly.
Don’t worry; President Trump had thought about that, as it turned out.
The Takeaway: This is a joke, and yet … maybe someone should actually take this approach when briefing the president right now?
Fly Like an Eagle…
What Happened: After their Super Bowl victory, the Philadelphia Eagles got into a surprise clash with the president, who didn’t come out looking better in the whole ordeal.
What Really Happened: It all started as plans got underway for the Super Bowl-winning Eagles to visit the White House.
This was entirely true, as it turned out.
The visit was cancelled by the administration because only two players—and the coach—wanted to attend, and that made it a “political stunt” as opposed to, you know, protest. (We’ll come back to this momentarily.) For some, this was simply fodder for comedy…
There was also the far less amusing replacement event—theoretically, a patriotic ceremony to listen to the National Anthem, of all things—to deal with.
But what a two minutes they turned out to be!
Oh, and the people in the crowd?
Well, maybe not all of them…
(Turns out, two people were kneeling during the anthem.)
The Takeaway: Now, ignoring for a second that no Eagles player actually knelt during the National Anthem—I know, it’s shocking that fact wasn’t shared by the administration, but it’s so true that Fox News had to apologize for suggesting otherwise—let’s return, for a brief second, to the idea of kneeling as protest and free speech, and what the US president thinks about free speech, shall we? Because if there’s one takeaway from this entire thing, it shouldn’t be that the President of the United States doesn’t know the words to “God Save America,” it should be this.
Meanwhile, in the World of Scott Pruitt…
What Happened: Just when you thought EPA administrator Scott Pruitt had done everything in his power to make his office look pointless and unnecessary, he stepped things up several notches this week.
What Really Happened: Let’s get away from what the president has been doing for a while and think about his appointees. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made news last week by announcing that a School Safety Commission won’t look into guns. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is seemingly at war with the president’s attorney Rudy Giuliani. Oh, and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt—he of the soundproof booth, tax-payer funded first class travel and suspicious housing situation—well, he had a hell of a week, and in the most unexpected manner. How unexpected? Well…
As if trying to buy a used mattress from a hotel owned by the President of the United States didn’t sound like the most suspect thing in the world already—really, it sounds like the start of a joke—that turned out to be just the start of Pruitt’s genuinely, impressively surreal week. To wit:
Oh, yes. His defense, amazingly, was that he and his wife “love Chick-fil-A as a franchise of faith and one of the best in the country,” adding, “we need more of them in Tulsa, we need more of them across the country.” Sadly, it was not to be.
But it gets weirder…
And then there was this, which almost seemed mundane in contrast.
I mean, sure. Protein bars, who cares about those when there are used mattresses and lotion in the mix? People were at a loss when trying to put all this together in their heads.
Of course, things are actually worse than they seem.
Yeah, that’s right; turns out that, while Pruitt is distracting everyone by being strange, he’s also letting his really important agency fall apart and potentially poison the world. What did President Trump think of all this? When asked about Pruitt, Trump told reporters Friday that he was “doing a great job.”
The Takeaway: Perhaps folks are being too harsh on Scott Pruitt, though. Maybe he’s trying his best and following the teachings of those important to him. That’s … that’s possible, right?
The Return of Melania Trump
What Happened: After more than three weeks in seclusion, prompting all manner of concern, the First Lady made her triumphant return to the public eye last week.
What Really Happened: Hey, remember a while back when we mentioned people were beginning to wonder where the First Lady had disappeared to? Turns out, that became a thing last week—but we got an answer. Kind of. The renewed focus on where Melania Trump was hiding started when, two days after she didn’t go to Camp David, her spokesperson revealed she also wouldn’t be accompanying the president on other trips as well.
Sure, there was suspicion over the fact that her return would happen in a private event closed to press, but a return is a return, right? Especially considering that people were genuinely beginning to get a little worried about her health.
As it turned out, people wondering if the whole thing was going to be a bait-and-switch had nothing to worry about; it really was Melania who appeared before the crowd, and not some lookalike to fool the rubes.
I mean, sure; she’s not writing these tweets herself, but at least someone’s realized the value of actually using her social media presence as proof of life. But was the internet happy about this?
…Well, apparently not. Look, she’s alive! Doesn’t that count for something? (For what it’s worth, the president said Friday that FLOTUS is staying on the down-low on doctor’s orders, but, you know, consider the source.)
The Takeaway: Just because Melania Trump is back in the public eye doesn’t mean she’s not still the wife of a many who doesn’t know how to spell her name.
International House of … Breakfast? Bacon? Befuddlement?
What Happened: Just when you thought it was safe to go and have a breakfast meal at a diner chain, IHOP promised to change the game—well, OK, its name—last week, and everyone freaked out at the possibility.
What Really Happened: It’s been a long week. Let’s end with a bit of a snack.
Yes, as of Monday, it’ll be IHOP no more as the company changes its name … or, at least, teases the change via Twitter. (After all, who’s to say this isn’t all one big practical joke?) As might be expected, everyone on social media had ideas of just what that B in the new acronym could … well … be.
As might be expected, the guesses—even as ridiculous as they were—became a story on their own, meaning that the marketing plan was working wonders. Really, when was the last time anyone talked about IHOP this much? Most people are assuming it’s going to be International House of Breakfast, but perhaps there’s still a chance for an unexpected surprise twist.
The Takeaway: As a marketing plan, this campaign has worked impressively well. There’s just one problem with the whole thing in the long term, though.
… Yeah, OK, that’s fair.