October 16, 2017

President Trump went ahead and disavowed the agreement to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons last week, and essentially none of his peers or Cabinet secretaries agree with his decision, John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. He played a clip where Trump explained his thinking, then pointed out how everything Trump said is factually incorrect, leading to a premature celebration. "It turns out nothing matters, nothing matters anymore," Oliver said when it turned out Trump is still president. "I'm sorry. He didn't know what he was talking about! I thought that was meaningful."

Trump didn't sink the deal himself so much as kick it over to Congress, but the damage to America will be long-lasting nevertheless, Oliver said. "Countries need to know that America will honor its agreements, because if they don't, that's going to be an issue no matter who that next president is." So, he recapped, "this Iran deal decision is equal parts dangerous and bizarre. Trump is asking Congress to fix a deal they don't realistically have the ability to fix," bypassing the agreement's built-in "process for restoring sanctions if Iran doesn't comply — which, remember, everyone agrees that they are doing. And he also threatened to pull out of the deal himself, even though his secretary of state already said that he wouldn't, but who knows if those two are even speaking."

The end result can't be called a foreign policy so much as an incoherent mess, Oliver said, comparing it to "a scared monkey in a submarine randomly pushing buttons" — an adorable image until you realize that we're all on the submarine. There is NSFW language. Peter Weber

October 16, 2017

Equifax, one of three main credit-monitoring agencies, "controls some of our most sensitive information," and that's a real shame, John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, because hackers stole that information on up to 145 million Americans. He explained why it's really, really bad that criminals likely have access to your Social Security number, address, and other information. Ordinarily, this would be a massive story, he said, "but now that every day's headline is simply the words 'Everything Bats--t Bananas Again Today,' it's slipped under the radar."

"This isn't Target exposing customers' credit cards," Oliver noted, "this is compromising Social Security numbers, the things that thieves could use to open new credit cards in your name, and if your information was stolen — which, remember, is about a 50-50 chance — it could haunt you forever." He took a look at how this happened, and "the short answer," he said, "is the people in charge have done literally everything wrong." And he explained what you can — and can't, and shouldn't (see: LifeLock) — do about it.

The first thing you should do is freeze your credit with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, Oliver said. "That way, no one can access it, including you, until you unfreeze it." This may cost some money, and that's just another way that these companies always seem to win, no matter how bad it is for you. By the end of the segment, you might find yourself pretty, pretty angry. Well, too bad, Oliver said, "because they make most of their money selling our data to businesses, like banks. So in their eyes, we're not the consumer, we're the product. To think of it in terms of KFC, we're not the guy buying the 10-piece buckets, we're the f---ing chickens." There is NSFW language throughout. Watch below. Peter Weber

October 16, 2017

John Oliver returned to thrashing disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, but he also had some words about the industry that looked the other way, illustrating his point with the reaction to a disgusting story from actress Angie Everhart. "That's just Harvey — he's like a sex criminal version of the Kool-Aid Man," Oliver paraphrased. He noted that, incredibly, some famous people originally defended Weinstein before later apologizing, and appeared underwhelmed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences kicking Weinstein out while declaring that "the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over."

"Yes," Oliver said, "finally, the group that counts among its current members Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby, and Mel Gibson has found the one guy who treated women badly and kicked him out."

President Trump was also busy last week, Oliver said, taking bold steps to kill ObamaCare. "Yes, Trump's plan is going to make insurance more expensive and lose the federal government more money," he explained. "It's a strategy you can read about in his book The Art of Being Bad at Stuff (Including Book Titling, no end parentheses." Republicans know raising premiums by 20 percent is bad politics, and some had been able to talk him out of it before, Oliver said. "The problem is, Republicans are playing checkers and Trump is playing Chex — that's right, Chex, the game of stress-eating Chex Mix because you do not understand your job." Watch below. Peter Weber

October 9, 2017

A year ago, The Washington Post released the infamous Access Hollywood tape that featured Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault, and America marked the occasion "with a series of grim stories concerning the treatment of women," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. The biggest was the "massive exposé" in The New York Times detailing decades of sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, "and his response was infuriating," Oliver said. He shared some disgusting new allegations, too. "Step aside, Chocolat, you are no longer the most horrifying picture that Harvey Weinstein has ever produced," Oliver said. "Meanwhile, Donald Trump, the Harvey Weinstein of presidents, had his own surprise for women this week," or at least women who use contraception.

Oliver also tackled the week's chaos in the White House, especially the hilarious but deadly serious tensions between President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. "I guess this is just the type of discussion that we now have on TV," Oliver sighed. "Does the secretary of state think the president is a 'moron' or a 'f---ing moron'? Because if it's just 'moron,' that actually makes him a moderate." It's HBO, so Oliver doesn't censor the fleeting expletive, meaning this clip has decidedly NSFW language. If that doesn't bother you, you can watch Oliver discuss the Tillerson "suicide pact" with two other Cabinet secretaries and the most frightening thing Trump said last week below. Peter Weber

October 9, 2017

John Oliver's main topic on Sunday's Last Week Tonight was the Confederacy, but he began with "a beloved icon of my childhood" in Britain, Jimmy Savile. After Savile died, it emerged he was a child sex offender, and all monuments to him were taken down, "because once we found out that he was a monster, we accepted it was no longer appropriate to publicly glorify him," Oliver said. The Confederacy, he suggested, is "America's track-suit sex offender," and since the debate over what to do with its monuments "is clearly not going away, we wanted to take a look at some of the arguments."

"The key fact about the Civil War," Oliver said, is that "the Confederacy was fighting for the preservation of slavery. And that's not my opinion. That is just a fact." It's an especially hard one to swallow if a relative fought for the Confederacy, he conceded, and "I honestly get wanting a more comfortable history for your family, but in doing so, you can't invent a more comfortable history for your country, because you'd be erasing the actual painful experiences of many Americans."

Oliver went through how various celebrities reacted to learning about their own Confederate ancestry. "Look, Larry David is not responsible for what his ancestors did — none of us are," he said. "I have to believe that, because I'm English." But personally and as a nation, America has to "actively, painfully come to grips with slavery and the lasting benefits and disadvantages that it conferred in ways that, frankly, we haven't yet."

"Monuments are not how we record history," Oliver said, pointing to books, museums, and Ken Burns' documentaries. "Statues are how we glorify people." He ended with some alternative statues for four places with Confederate ones, and one of his replacements was an old friend from The Daily Show. Peter Weber

October 2, 2017

"On TV and in real life, forensic science plays an important role in criminal convictions," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, but not all forensic science is as reliable as we've been led to believe by TV shows. Jurors don't always know that, but they expect forensic proof — what prosecutors call the "CSI effect." Since Oliver had a lot of potential jurors watching, he took a few minutes to educate, entertainingly.

"It's not that all forensic science is bad, because it's not," Oliver said. But there are serious documented problems with bite-mark and hair analysis, and some people convicted on such evidence have been executed. More sound forensic sciences like fingerprint and DNA analysis are "by no means infallible," either, he said, giving some examples. And since judges allow evidence based on precedence, not science, "decisions about the validity of science are being made by people who don't necessarily know much about it," he noted.

Finally, some forensic labs are pretty tight with law enforcement, letting bias creep in. "They are supposed to be neutral," not part of the "team" getting bad guys, Oliver said. "If a referee started participating in a team's end-zone celebration, you'd have some serious f---ing questions." He gave a surprise shout-out to Texas for leading the way on quashing "junk" evidence, and said there is a National Commission on Forensic Science that was set up to advise the Justice Department on how to avoid bad science, or was — Attorney General Jeff Sessions shut it down in April. "We may honestly be actively going backwards on this issue," making it likely that innocent people will be locked up and dangerous criminals allowed to roam free, Oliver said, and if the Trump administration won't help, he had a different kind of CSI clip for potential jurors (it has some NSFW language). Watch below. Peter Weber

September 25, 2017

If you don't believe that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, watch John Oliver orchestrate politicians of all stripes saying that phrase in sync. "It's true, 'small businesses are the backbone of our economy' is that rare thing that every politician agrees on," along with "support the troops," something NSFW about Ted Cruz, and Sen. John Thune's (R-S.D.) good looks, Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. But despite what you might have heard, America is not in a "golden age of small-business startups," thanks, he argued, to rampant corporate consolidation.

Decades of virtually unchecked "merger activity has helped make some sectors of our economy ridiculously consolidated," Oliver said, citing airlines, rental companies, beer, search engines, and other industries. "In fact, look, full disclosure here, even our own parent company, Time Warner, is currently trying to merge with AT&T, which makes this story a little dangerous for us to do," he said, adding to the danger by savagely insulting AT&T multiple times. The U.S. has had antitrust laws on the books for more than 100 years, and there is some benefit to consolidation, Oliver explained, "but since the late 1970s, that balance has tipped decidedly in favor of being merger-friendly, which has led to real problems," for workers and consumers alike. It is past time to more strictly enforce those laws, he said, suggesting that should be a political no-brainer.

"The point here is, we seem to have forgotten how important antitrust is, and now we're all being forced to live with the consequences," Oliver said. "Because this issue affects almost everything you do." You can watch his examples below, including the "menacing tone of a Bond villain" Luxottica's CEO used in describing his acquisition of Oakley. Be warned, some of it is NSFW. Peter Weber

September 25, 2017

On Sunday's Last Week Tonight, John Oliver had a wry laugh at a pair of private-jet scandals in President Trump's administration, starting with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's extensive use of chartered private jets to travel the country at taxpayers' expense. Oliver didn't just poke at Price, a millionaire, taking publicly funded private jets, but also at CNN's graphics department, showing his own saltier alternative transportation methods to get Price to Philadelphia on the cheap. He also had a laugh, apropos of nothing, at Price's onetime mustache.

"But for sheer brazenness here, Price has to take a fully reclinable back seat to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, a man whose appearance provides us with the answer to: 'What if income inequality dressed up as me, John Oliver, for Halloween?'" Oliver said. He ran through the various flaps about Mnuchin and his new wife, including their government-jet trip to Kentucky and a breathtakingly tone-deaf request. "It's true, a man worth an estimated $300 million asked to use a government jet for his European honeymoon," he said. In denying impropriety, Mnuchin "causally insulted the entire state of Kentucky," Oliver said, and you can watch him recreate that moment below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads