Speed Reads

Late Night Tackles 2018

John Oliver has a good laugh at West Virginia GOP Senate candidate Don Blankenship but thinks he might win

West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship is the former CEO of Massey Energy, a role that landed him in jail for a year when he was convicted of conspiring to violate federal mine safety laws leading up to the deadly 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, John Oliver recapped on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "And if you think he would want to steer away from any talk of what I just said in his ads, think again." In fact, he added, "if Blankenship wants to distance himself from that mine explosion, it frankly doesn't help that he talks about it all the time," blaming his incarceration on an "Obama judge" and "Obama prosecutors," and vowing to run against not just Democrats but the GOP Senate majority leader.

"He called Mitch McConnell 'Cocaine Mitch,' which is a far more badass name than this man deserves," Oliver said, and referred to McConnell's father-in-law as "a 'wealthy Chinaperson,' which on one hand is pretty racist, but on the other hand, it's also impressively gender-neutral. So maybe that should be his campaign platform: 'Don Blankenship — Bringing racism into the 21st century.'"

"Look, I know that it's tempting to write Blankenship off as a wacky outlier, but the truth is, when a party moves as far to the right as Republicans have, the fringe guys are no longer fringe," Oliver said. "They pop up all the time, and sometimes they win. And Blankenship is not only surging in the polls right now, but he recently put out an ad doubling down on everything you've seen so far." He played that ad, and offered some unsolicited advice to the man who might well become the GOP Senate nominee on Tuesday. Watch below. (There is some NSFW language). Peter Weber