John Oliver has a fiendish plan to get around Britain's censorship of his satirical use of Parliament footage
Last week's Last Week Tonight had a segment about the speaker of Britain's House of Commons delivering put-downs, but nobody in Britain saw it, John Oliver said on Sunday's show. "And not for the normal reasons of disinterest, ignorance about this show's existence, or longstanding aversion to my name and face." At the designated spot in the U.K., he said, the show "just cut to black — like I'd just been murdered on The Sopranos. And the reason for that is, in the U.K., it is, unbelievably, against the law to use footage from the House of Commons for the purpose of comedy. It's true!"
"This law is patently offensive," Oliver said. "Britain is supposed to be one of the world's great free societies. We came up with the Magna Carta, and we allow a product called 'Daddies Brown Sauce' to be sold, regardless of how disturbing that sounds. That's freedom right there! And this anti-satire law isn't just hypocritical, it is a legitimate burden because it's genuinely hard to use parliamentary footage for purposes that are not comedy. Parliament is inherently ridiculous." He showed some examples.
"The fact that we are using parliamentary footage in making fun of this means that this part of the show is now going to be blacked out in the U.K. tomorrow as well, which is genuinely insane and frankly antidemocratic," Oliver said. So to punish Britain — or Oliver's fans in Britain? — Last Week Tonight will replace this part of the show in the U.K. with five minutes of footage of Gilbert Gottfried reading three-star Yelp reviews of restaurants in Boise, Idaho. You can get a mercifully short taste of that below. Peter Weber
John Oliver details how Trump and Fox News are winning their fight to discredit the Mueller probe, O.J. style
A year into Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, President Trump and his allies are openly and actively trying to discredit it, John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. And while "everyone involved is dumb and terrible and bad at everything," their efforts are working.
If Trump can't be indicted, then impeachment is the only remedy if Trump committed a crime — an open question — and impeachment is a political process, where public opinion really does matter, Oliver said. "The question, 'Did a hostile a foreign government try to manipulate our election?' is something any reasonable person should want answered quickly, and yet, an increasing number of Americans seem to want the investigation to stop." To understand how Trump and his lawyers are fueling this trend, you really need to know what's going on with "Trump's TV friends," he argued.
Sean Hannity and other Fox News personalities are trying to "redefine the investigation on their terms," like hammering on "collusion," a word Mueller's broad mandate doesn't even mention, Oliver noted. "Saying the investigation has to shut down if there's no collusion is like saying a game of Scrabble has to end because you've fit all the letters in your mouth." They also employ "whataboutism" and work to build a counternarrative, like "spygate."
These conspiracy theories are impervious to fact, they "can make it easy to forget just how bad what we actually do know already is," and they don't even address "the most obvious question" — why did Trump win? Oliver said. "Basically everyone in the country got together to steal an election, and then, for some reason, forgot to do it?" But while the Trump team's tactics are "transparent, illogical, and dump," they're also "depressingly effective," he sighed, making a specific comparison: "Trump is going full O.J., and it's working." Watch his explanation, and his argument against shutting down Mueller's investigation, in the frequently NSFW video below. Peter Weber
"This week, the June 12 summit between the U.S. and North Korea was suddenly back on after President Trump met with a North Korean envoy who had brought him this gigantic, comically oversized letter from Kim Jong Un," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "And as if smiling while holding a letter from a dictator were not enough of a propaganda coup for North Korea, the president then raved about the letter to the press." And then, eight minutes later, he said he hadn't read the letter, admitting he might be surprised. Yeah, Oliver said. "You just agreed to a summit without reading the contents of the letter that supposedly convinced you to do it. So, worst-case scenario, it's a declaration of war. Best-case scenario, it says: 'Donald, it's me. I have run away to North Korea and I'm never coming back. Melania [your third wife].'"
Oliver moved on to Ukraine — "or as Vladimir Putin calls it, 'Bonus Russia'" — and Tuesday's shocking, tragic murder of Putin critic and journalist Arkady Babchenko. "And that's what made what happened on Wednesday even more remarkable," he said. "It's true — Babchenko faked his death to bring down a team of Russian assassins."
"Some of the details of this fake assassination are amazing," including the detail that he watched the news of his own "murder" from the morgue, Oliver said. Babchenko's colleagues were thrilled that he was alive, but some of his friends were rightfully ticked off, Oliver said, as was his wife, who was also left in the dark. Or was she? "And that is the problem here," he said. "And it's why some reporters criticized Babchenko, arguing that this plays into Russia's hands in dismissing actual crimes as 'fake news.'" He also explained why Babkenko probably shouldn't be so "borderline cocky" after his fake death. Watch below. Peter Weber
If you watched the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, you might have seen color commentary from the chairman of the British Monarchy Society, Thomas J. Mace-Archer-Mills Esq., John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. And while Oliver might be a skeptic of the British monarchy himself, he was as annoyed as amused to find out that Mr. Mace-Archer-Mills has a dark secret: "It's true — that British man is actually Tommy Muscatello from New York. And that is a destabilizing thing to learn."
"What is most galling about Tommy Muscatello is that, as a defender of the monarchy, he used his air time to argue that Meghan Markle was a brash interloper who needed to proceed with care," Oliver noted, playing an example. "Let me make this perfectly clear: Meghan Markle's American passport is not an insult to anyone. The name Thomas J. Mace-Archer-Mills Esq., however, is offensively British. That is the equivalent of a British person pretending to be an American and calling themselves Jefferson Budweiser McNuggets Jr." He explained something about Muscatello's background: "Apparently, he went to Europe, met an old lady, asked her to be his grandmother, and now he knows all about the monarchy. And if that sounds at all familiar to you, it's because it's literally the exact backstory of Babar the Elephant." And he closed with some advice. Watch below. Peter Weber
"Right now, over 49 million Americans are 65 and older," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, "and that number is expected to sharply increase in a demographic surge that some have called the 'Silver Tsunami' — which is also, apparently, the nickname Christopher Plummer goes by at his underground cage-fighting ring." Not all of us are going to remain sharp, he added, and "some of us are going to wind up needing extra care, and that could place us in a system called guardianship."
A guardian is a court-appointed overseer of people deemed incapable of taking care of their own affairs, "and when this system works, it's great. But it probably won't surprise you that that is not what this story is about. That's simply not what we do on I Just Wanted to Watch a Comedy Show and Go to Sleep But Now I'm Sad, with Johnny Joy-Killer." He explained "what can happen when guardianship goes wrong," and the details are pretty shocking. Oliver at one point made a Mercury joke, and slipped in Samantha Bee quip while yelling at Neil deGrasse Tyson for not appreciating his astronomy humor: "Just enjoy something for once in your f---ing life! What is wrong with you, you feckless — ah, never mind. It's not worth it, it's not worth it. Bad idea."
This is going to be an ever bigger problem in coming years, and while greater oversight and funding will be needed, Oliver said, "on the personal level, there are steps that everyone can take to avoid being taken advantage of in the future," like having "honest conversations with your family," even if that "sounds like a f---ing nightmare," as well as taking some "concrete legal steps." Since Oliver's relative youth might make him an untrustworthy messenger, he brought in some special guests to discuss guardianship tips — and, oddly, hippos and Tom Hanks. There is NSFW language. Watch below. Peter Weber
John Oliver wonders if John Bolton follows the 'Scaramucci model' after his 'Libya model' threat to North Korea
The proposed summit between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un "hit a major snag" last week, John Oliver said on Last Week Tonight. "Negotiating with North Korea is clearly the tightest of tightropes to walk, and unfortunately, instead of a professional tightrope walker, Trump has brought is a big ol' walrus," National Security Adviser John Bolton, who suggested the "Libya model" for North Korea. "That may not sound like much to you, but Bolton bringing up Libya is literally the worst thing he could have said in this situation," Oliver said, comparing it to a NSFW conversation between a husband and wife.
The "Libya model" starts with Moammar Gadhafi agreeing to give up his nuclear weapons program and ends with him being brutally murdered in the street after the U.S. facilitated his overthrow. "It's not just Kim Jong Un who is touchy about what happened in Libya," Oliver said. "Gadhafi's death is a common obsession among autocrats. In fact, even [Russia's Vladimir] Putin apparently thinks about it a lot. ... You know what, I'm not actually surprised by that, because if you told me that there is a video that Putin watches over and over again, I would guess it's of someone being murdered. You know, that's his Big Lewbowski."
"For a sense of just how badly Bolton screwed up here, Trump actually walked his comments back" on TV, at least briefly, Oliver said. "That is the president of the United States directly contradicting one of his top advisers — a man who, incidentally, was standing in the room the whole time. And look, John Bolton, how can I put this to you, what you did, in terms that you might understand? Your decision to say the words the 'Libya model' may have put your time in the White House on the path of the 'Scaramucci model,'" which he explains below, complete with some NSFW language. Peter Weber
John Oliver wants finding quality rehab to be the easy part of the addiction solution, explains why it isn't
"Rehab is a place where people can address an addiction to drugs or alcohol, something that until relatively recently was seen as a moral failing that could be overcome with sheer willpower," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, using Belinda Carlisle and "an amazing PSA from the '80s" as a cautionary tale. "Thankfully there is now a broader understanding that addiction is complex and that nothing about getting off alcohol or drugs is easy." Experts commonly view it as a medical problem, and for many addicts, the solution is sought in America's $35 billion rehab industry. Oliver's big message: Buyers beware.
Insurance is increasingly covering rehab, thanks to a law signed by George W. Bush and expanded under Barack Obama, Oliver said, but not all rehab is equal — there are no federal standards for what rehab or addiction counseling should entail, and the vast majority of people don't get evidence-based care. "So tonight let's look at what rehab is and why the industry's so troubled," he said.
Oliver pointed to Florida as "a window into how the flood of insurance money into treatment centers has caused massive problems," running through some of the ways "rehab" centers game the system, like excessive testing. "Urine is so valuable that in the recovery industry it is known as liquid gold," he said. "The final big problem" is that "everything about this industry is incredibly difficult to navigate, which is dangerous," literally a matter of life or death, Oliver said. The best starting place right now is probably trying to get advice from a doctor who is board-certified in addiction medicine, he said, but it shouldn't be this difficult. "So much about battling addiction is really hard. Getting clean is hard. Staying clean is hard. But getting good, evidence-based, trustworthy help should be the f---ing easy part." (There is NSFW language throughout.) Watch below. Peter Weber
John Oliver is a noted skeptic of royal weddings and the British monarchy — he suggested in February that Meghan Markle might want to consider calling off her wedding to Prince Harry, for her own sanity. But of course the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex did indeed get married on Saturday — "as you probably knew if you were anywhere within earshot of CBS's Gayle King," Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. He had video in case you weren't within earshot.
"Perhaps the most notable part of the service was Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered an impassioned ode to love — which led to some pretty awkward reaction shots," Oliver said, focusing on the monarch herself. "Oh, that is the wrong room there, buddy. Because believe me, those are some of the most repressed people on Earth. Talking to the queen about love is like talking to her about the transformative power of the Taco Bell $5 Chalupa Cravings Box." (And there goes his knighthood.)
Last Week Tonight also had some unexpressed thoughts on all the American news anchors affecting British accents for the wedding, and you can watch (and likely cringe) below. Peter Weber