Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel welcomed “currently unemployed” former President Barack Obama to his fund-raising special on Tuesday night.
The late-night show’s third annual (RED) shopathon special — which included Hollywood A-list guests such as Bono, Kristen Bell, Ashton Kutcher and Bryan Cranston — encourages viewers to join the fight against AIDS. Obama made a video message for the event.
“More than half of all people living with the virus are on life-saving medication, and AIDS-related deaths have been cut in half since their peak,” Obama said in the video. “It wasn’t down to mysterious forces or chance, but the countless people working for years who chose to make this progress.”
To try to coerce people to donate, the former president also said those who help or contribute can pilot Air Force One for a day or access classified alien files. “No? We can’t do that either?” Obama joked, when a camera crew said he actually couldn’t offer those prizes.
“I know we live in a time when cable news and our Twitter feeds can make it feel like cynicism is everywhere,” Obama said. “But when it comes to the fight against HIV/AIDS there is some genuinely good news to share.”
During the special, Kimmel said that in the last two years, the (RED) shopathons have raised about $97 million. Like last year, Kimmel and some of the participating celebrities wrote and performed an original song for the special. This year’s was titled “We’re Going to Hell.”
In 2017, Kimmel has transformed into what some observers have described as the “conscience of the nation.” It began in May after he delivered an emotional monologue about his son’s battle with a heart defect. He defended the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and encouraged viewers to put aside their political differences to hold politicians accountable for health care issues.
Since then, he has utilized his opening monologues to deliver emotional, thoughtful takes on the current political climate, most recently making an impassioned, tearful plea for action on guns after the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history took place in Kimmel’s hometown of Las Vegas in October.