Bernie Sanders Talks Brussels, Trump and Corrupt Campaign Finance on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!'

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders explains our corrupt campaign finance system to Jimmy Kimmel. YouTube

Tuesday night's episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! taped before the results of the Arizona, Idaho and Utah primaries were known. Bernie Sanders felt good about his chances. "We had 14,000 people out at a rally in Salt Lake City," he told Kimmel. "There is a poll that just came out in Utah [that said] for the first time in 50 years—and this is a state that almost never votes for a Democratic candidate for president—we were beating Donald Trump by 10 points, which I thought was pretty good."

Sure enough, Sanders would win Utah later that night with nearly 80 percent of the vote, but the primary results were overshadowed by a series of attacks earlier that day that left at least 30 people dead and hundreds more wounded in Brussels. Before anyone could even process what happened, candidates began releasing statements. Ted Cruz condemned Muslims. Donald Trump advocated the use of torture. It's no wonder. As Kimmel pointed out, Trump's popularity ballooned after his pro-gun comments following November's attacks in Paris.

Sanders attributed the post-tragedy spike in favorability to fear, but he noted that we can't "undermine the Constitution of the United States of America" to destroy the Islamic State militant group. "Our goal in this issue is to destroy ISIS in coalition with Muslim nations on the ground with the support of the United States and other major powers. I think we can do that. We are making some progress. We have much more to do."

He had some choice words for Trump as well.

"At the end of the day, we cannot allow the Trumps of the world to use these incidents to attack all of the Muslim people in the world," he said. "It is unfair. To imply that because somebody is a Muslim, they are a terrorist, that is an outrageous statement. Equally so when he talks about Mexicans coming over the border as rapists and criminals. That is not what this country is about, and we don't need, in my view, a candidate for president hurling these types of insults."

Another theme of Sanders's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! was the corrupt campaign finance system. Sanders has been able to speak so freely largely because his campaign is a grassroots one, unlike those of other candidates. As he mentions, he has received over 5 million individual donations averaging $27 a piece. 

"If you're going to run for president, you need many, many hundreds of millions of dollars," Sanders explained. "I'm on the Senate environmental committee. I've talked to scientists all over the world. Climate change is real; it's caused by human activity. And yet you don't have one Republican candidate prepared to say that. The reason for it is that the day they say it, their campaign funding is cut by the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry."Sanders also attributed part of his own campaign's success to the public's exasperation with candidates spending their way to the top of the polls. "People are really angry with a corrupt campaign finance system that allows very, very wealthy people to spend unlimited sums of money to buy elections," he said. "That's not what democracy in this country is supposed to be about."

Sanders is right, of course. Unfortunately for his campaign, capitalism is probably a better word than democracy to describe how the U.S. selects its presidents, and what it "is supposed to be about" rarely comes into play.