'Samantha Bee' Segment Loves Up Hallquist — and Vermont | Off Message

'Samantha Bee' Segment Loves Up Hallquist — and Vermont


Ashley Nicole Black, left, a correspondent for "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Ashley Nicole Black, left, a correspondent for "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee"
Christine Hallquist is the face of the “rainbow wave,” according to a Wednesday night segment on the TBS show "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee."

The show profiled Vermont's Democratic gubernatorial candidate as one of hundreds of LGBT candidates running for office around the nation. But the comedy segment was as much about Vermont’s politics as it was about Hallquist. The six-minute dispatch shows correspondent Ashley Nicole Black searching for a classic good-versus-evil social justice narrative. But the Vermonters she speaks with focus on broadband access and socioeconomic diversity — not the candidates’ gender politics.

“I’m here to make, like, a beautiful Oscar-winning film about a woman who’s just become, like, a champion for the people,” Black tells Hallquist in a sit-down interview at the beginning of the segment.

“Okay, that’s ... Yeah, sure,” Hallquist responds.

The segment makes reference to President Donald Trump's proposal to change federal policy so that it no longer recognizes trans people. In response, Hallquist tweeted that she'd give the Trump administration "a can of whoop-ass" if elected.

But the segment quickly veers away from gender politics. When Black starts to ask about the national focus on her transgender identity, Hallquist fails to provide the rousing response Black seeks.

“Vermonters don’t really care about my gender,” Hallquist says. “I mean, they really care about the issues.”

Black takes the question to Vermonters, stopping sweater-clad people at what appears to be a farmers market. They all confirm that the candidate’s gender identity isn’t really an issue in the race.

Black then focuses on finding a narrative with better traction in Vermont: Hallquist’s push for universal broadband. The former Vermont Electric Coop CEO explains to Black that Vermont’s copper wire phone and internet infrastructure is effectively rotting in the ground.

“Wow, Vermont sounds like my idea of paradise: A bunch of people who are nice and don’t have the internet,” Black quips.

Hallquist says broadband is important for business, but agrees that it should be used for social good. “I’ve always said technology should be used to enhance the human relationship,” Hallquist says.

“Like Tinder!” Black interjects, referring to the popular hookup and dating app.

After a pause, Hallquist says: “I don’t know what that means.”

In search of a villain for her segment, Black turns the conversation to Gov. Phil Scott, Hallquist’s Republican opponent. Menacing music plays over grainy images of Scott as Black introduces him. But there too, her presupposed narrative falls apart.

“We’re very respectful to each other,” Hallquist tells Black.

“But one of you is a Republican and one of you is a Democrat,” Black protests.

“Well, we have differences in how we think, but that doesn’t mean we dislike each other,” Hallquist responds.

Black sounds exasperated as she asks: “Is Vermont even in America?”

The segment also takes aim at the state’s overwhelming whiteness ("Saturday Night Live" did a segment about Vermont’s lack of racial diversity this past September.)
Hallquist suggests using tourism dollars to attract more people of color to Vermont, an idea Black floats with people at the farmers market.

“You’re the most diversity-craving white people I’ve ever met,” Black concludes.

While she doesn’t find truth to any of her “Oscar-winning” narratives, Black’s segment is still chock-full of praise for Hallquist — and Vermont.

“I was trying to make Christine fit into my story, but hers is way better,” Black says. “An experienced policy wonk working with her community to protect their most vulnerable — even if Washington won’t.”