Speed Reads

John Oliver dives deep

John Oliver asks some uncomfortable questions about the Miss America pageant

Lots of newsworthy things happened last week, but on Sunday night's Last Week Tonight, John Oliver decided to focus on "one of the weirdest annual events on television," the Miss America pageant. After a while, it becomes clear what bee got stuck in Oliver's bonnet: The Miss America organization's claim that the $45 million in scholarships it offers annually to young women makes it "the world's largest provider of scholarships for women."

Oliver and his team dug deep into those claims, pulling tax returns from more than 30 states and the national foundation. The $45 million number is wildly exaggerated — $4 million would be pushing it — Oliver said, but "one thing does seem to be troublingly true:" Their claim to be the world's largest women-only scholarship seems to be true, even at the low end.

The fuzzy math may sound dry, but Oliver also brutally mocked Donald Trump, walked through the unsettling honesty of the Miss America competition's early days, and raised some uncomfortable questions about why America still has swimsuit-gazing, amazingly-tough-question-asking, posterior-adhesive-requiring "scholarship pageant" in the first place. And the way he demonstrated his point is pure John Oliver. --Peter Weber