John Oliver writes rival kid's book about Mike Pence's bunny being gay to benefit charity
A day before the official release of a Marlon Bundo book crafted by Mike Pence's daughter and wife, John Oliver beat the Pences to the punch with his own children's book about the vice-presidential pet.
On Sunday night's episode of "Last Week Tonight," Oliver unveiled "A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo" to the world and announced that it was on sale at Amazon.
But Oliver points out that his book has some major differences from “Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President,” a book released Monday that was written by Charlotte Pence, the vice president’s daughter, and illustrated by Karen Pence.
"You'll notice right away that our rabbit has a bow tie, so there's that," Oliver said of the differences in the two children's books. "Also, our story is about Marlon Bundo falling in love with another boy rabbit, because our Marlon Bundo is gay."
Hoosier Politics:Stay up to date on Indiana politics with our newsletter
A problematic promo:Uber users angry after free St. Patrick's Day rides fail in Indianapolis
The announcement of the book came at the end of a segment in which Oliver took a look at Pence and his policies. Oliver said he was troubled by what he described as Pence's anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ stances and by the fact that Pence is the one person President Donald Trump can't fire.
Oliver also touched on Pence defending false statements made by Trump, the vice president's past comments on women in the military and Pence's longtime support of James Dobson's Focus on the Family organization, which supports sexual conversion therapy. Pence's own stance on gay conversion therapy is murky.
Oliver highlighted Pence's March 2015 interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos about Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, notably a portion when Stephanopoulos asked Pence for a yes or no answer about whether LGBTQ people could be discriminated against under the law.
Pence answered with, "Hoosiers don't believe in discrimination."
"That's neither the word yes or no. It's the word Hoosier, which isn't an answer to any question besides, 'What's a good derogatory slang term for an owl with a drinking problem?'" Oliver said.
But before starting the 20-minute segment, Oliver promised to say one nice thing about Pence.
That nice thing centered around Marlon Bundo.
"I kind of like his rabbit. I really genuinely do," Oliver said. "His name is Marlon Bundo, which again, it kills me to say this, is an objectively good name for a bunny. ... Marlon Bundo is the most likable thing about an otherwise unlikable man."
That is when Oliver revealed the book, which in addition to Amazon is sold at betterbundobook.com and focusonthefurmily.com.
As of 11:30 a.m. Monday, the book was No. 1 on Amazon's best-sellers list, followed by "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership" by James Comey and "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump" by Michael Isikoff and David Corn.
A request for comment from Pence's office was not immediately returned Monday morning.
Oliver played a short animated clip of the story that highlights the audiobook's star-studded voice cast comprised of Jim Parsons, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jeff Garlin, Ellie Kemper, John Lithgow, Jack McBrayer and RuPaul.
One wild ride:Batmobile, KITT creator's craziest custom car to be sold at Mecum Indianapolis
In the clip, Marlon Bundo meets and falls in love with another rabbit named Wesley. The two decide they want to get married, only to be told by a stinkbug, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Pence, that boy bunnies can only marry girl bunnies.
The rabbits team up with their animal friends to find a way to get married.
You can watch the entire Marlon Bundo segment of "Last Week Tonight" here. While the clip contains profanity and sexual comments, the book itself is truly a children's book, Oliver says.
Oliver said all proceeds from the book will go to benefit LGBT advocacy group The Trevor Project and health organization AIDS United.
"Those are two great reasons to buy this book," Oliver said. "Another is that selling more books than Pence will probably really piss him off, so that's three great reasons right there."
But before all the back and forth over Bundo, Trump had a bunny-focused children's book first.
Called "Thump: The First Bundred Days," the political humor hardcover has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon and is one of the site's best-sellers.
The book follows a bunny version of Trump as he campaigns for president. Based on the reviews, it has been a big hit with Trump supporters.
"This book is great. Buy it if you're a Trump fan, a Great Meme War veteran or a fan of unique political humor," said one 5-star review.
Brett Smith, one of Thump's creators, has tweeted that supporters of Oliver's book are now posting negative Thump reviews on Amazon.
Call IndyStar reporter Justin L. Mack at (317) 444-6138. Follow him on Twitter: @justinlmack.