Opinion: Michael Ian Black: Trump’s Veep Candidates Are All Impressively Terrible

Animated GIF by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
Animated GIF by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

Big news out of the gold-plated rococo tower of bullshit known as Trumpworld: Donald Trump is announcing his VP selection on Monday! Yes, these are exciting days as we wait to find out who will be hand-picked by our former president/current felon/adjudicated rapist! The contenders for the post have been auditioning for months, appearing on cable news networks and campaigning with the former president, all the while working up enough saliva to hawk tuah all over Trump’s putter.

The list of finalists reads like a who’s who of Trump sycophancy, minus Lindsey Graham who, unfortunately, cannot be considered for the position due to a tragic medical condition which prevents him from getting up off his knees.

Let’s take a quick look at what we think is the short list.

Fox Confronts J.D. Vance With His Harshest Anti-Trump Jabs

There’s Senator Marco Rubio, who ran against Trump in 2016 and has the distinction of making the first small dick joke in presidential debating history, prompting Trump to “guarantee” that there was “no problem” with his genitalia. Trump has not made any similar guarantees regarding his brain. In the past, Marco has called Trump a “con man,” “vulgar,” and referred to his rallies as “frightening, grotesque and disturbing.”

All of that changed, of course, once Trump won the nomination. Since then, Rubio has done everything in his power to debase himself before Mighty Trump, more than justifying Trump’s withering sobriquet “Little Marco.” A man who will sacrifice his dignity just for the chance to get kicked in the nuts is exactly the sort of man we need as VP. A great choice!

Also on the shortlist: Ohio senator J.D. Vance, who first came to national prominence as the man best able to articulate white rage, as he did in his memoir Hillbilly Elegy. That J.D. Vance presented himself as a compassionate defender of the forgotten white rural underclass. No wonder a brash New York gameshow host rubbed him the wrong way. “My God, what an idiot,” J.D. once tweeted about Trump.

So, naturally, Vance reinvented himself as the trumpiest of Trumpists once he sniffed the wind and realized the scent coming back was emanating from Trump’s adult diapers. Vance has proven that he is willing to turn himself inside out on behalf of a man who broke one of his central campaign promises to bring coal and manufacturing jobs back to the people Vance once championed. Another excellent choice!

What about the heretofore-mostly-unknown-beyond-his-family Doug Burgum? Burgum has the advantage of being governor of the pivotal swing state North Dakota, whose whopping three electoral votes last went to a Democrat in 1964. Burgum, too, used to be no fan of Trump, once saying that he would be reluctant to do business with Trump because “people judge you by the company you keep.” Indeed they do, Doug!

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R) speaks to members of the press on the day of the first presidential debate hosted by CNN in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., June 27, 2024.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R) speaks to members of the press on the day of the first presidential debate hosted by CNN in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., June 27, 2024.

Marco Bello/Reuters

Burgum also took a swipe at Trump during the Jan. 6 insurrection, tweeting: “The violence happening at our nation’s Capitol is reprehensible and does not represent American values, and needs to stop immediately.” It did not stop for several hours, and, as a reminder, Trump had to be begged to put out a half-hearted statement condemning the violence after it was too late. Burgum is a milquetoast multimillionaire who brings, as far as I can tell, absolutely nothing to the table. Another fantastic choice.

Burgum’s sister state governorship is held by South Dakota dog executioner Governor Kristi Noem, who, for some reason, seems to have fallen out of serious contention for the VP slot. It’s hard to exactly identify why—surely it’s not the dog murder since Trump’s favorite insult is to compare people to dogs. “Choked like a dog,” is one of his go-to insults, for example, despite the fact that dogs are not particularly known for choking.

Noem has also been banned from, according to The New Republic, 16 percent of her state, whose indigenous populations have forbidden her from entering their tribal lands. For a governor to get banned from her own state is quite an accomplishment, and I’d like to see if she can manage to top it as Trump’s VP. What seems obvious is that Noem’s cruelty matches Trump’s freak to a T. An outstanding selection!

South Carolina senator Tim Scott also made the callback sheet. The second of South Carolina’s bachelor senators, Scott is the only African-American that we know of on the short list. (Ben Carson is probably a little too sleepy to make an effective candidate, or, at this point, an effective anything.) Scott was one of the few Republican senators to criticize Trump after the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally, which featured such amusing antics as khaki-wearing incels chanting “Jews will not replace us,” and the murder of Heather Heyer by a white supremacist.

Scott had some choice words for the president at the time: “I’m not going to defend the indefensible. I’m not here to do that… What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority.” A Baptist preacher, Scott has since put aside any misgivings about Trump’s 50 year history of racism/sexism/sexual harassment allegations/philandering. Considering he’s willing to turn his back on the teachings of Christ in favor of the teachings of Trump, I think he’d make a fantastic selection.

Who else, who else?

Coming out of left field is yet another South Carolinian, Nikki Haley, last seen supporting a “Go ahead and underestimate me. That’ll be fun” t-shirt. Haley, of course, was the last person standing in the Republican primaries, and while Trump once posted to his Truth Social Ponzi scheme account, “Nikki Haley is not under consideration for the V.P. slot but I wish her well.”

Some speculate that Haley is attempting to get back into Trump’s good graces by releasing her delegates and encouraging them to back Trump. Could this be the thawing of a cold war between the two, which could lead to Haley being selected to be No. 2?!? Hard to say, but Haley’s track record of backpedaling, obfuscating, and flat-out lying does her make a tempting pick for a second Trump administration! Would be a great pick!

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) is seen at a press conference at the Republican National Committee after a meeting with former President Donald Trump and the House Republican Conference, in Washington, U.S., June 13, 2024.

Oh! What about New York congresswoman Elise Stefanik? She’s young, a Harvard grad (might be a strike against her), the fourth-ranking House Republican, and—best of all—she’s willing to say whatever crazy shit Trump wants her to say and do what he wants her to do. She’s attempted to open an ethics investigation into one of the judges involved in Trump’s criminal cases, refused to say she will accept the results of the 2024 election, and even attempted to expunge the former president’s 2021 impeachment. Once considered a moderate Republican who, according to the New York Times, called Trump a “whack job,” and complained about how hard it is to “go after Trump more forcefully” as her friends had urged her to do, Stefanik has, in recent years, gone full MAGA.

Perhaps no better endorsement for Stefanik came from Democrat Jamie Raskin, who said, “Elise Stefanik is giving opportunism and sycophancy a bad name.” Brother, when it comes to Donald Trump, we don’t slander people for opportunism and sycophancy—we give them a job! Stefanik would be a great pick!

Oddly, Trump’s second wife, Marla Maples, just threw her own hat into the ring, saying she is “open to whatever way that [she] can serve,” apparently even as VP! Maples, a yoga teacher, has never served in any elected position, has no public policy experience, harbors suspicions about vaccines and immigrants, and is a former television personality. Her qualifications, in other words, exactly match Trump’s when he first decided to run for the presidency. By that standard, I don’t see why he would pick her as vice president—she should have the #1 job.

Frankly, I don’t know how he’s going to make this very difficult decision. He’s got a bevy of highly qualified candidates who have earned every punch on their hypocrisy sandwich card. Should Trump become incapacitated during his second term, each of them would, no doubt, devote themselves to fulfilling Trump’s vision of an America united in its hatred for immigrants, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, the justice system, our intelligence officers, teachers, windmills, and dogs. It’s a tough choice but if there’s one man who will almost certainly make the wrong one, it’s Donald Trump.

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