Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 1, Episode 12 - Episode #1.12 - full transcript

John addresses the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, revisits the subject of international royalty, discusses the safety of nuclear weapons and campaigns to save geckos in space.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -
Welcome to "Last Week Tonight." I'm John Oliver.

Thanks for being with us.

Just time for a quick recap of the week--

spoiler alert--it's been fucking depressing again.

It's been a very difficult time for diplomacy.

In Gaza, the crisis continued.

Over a thousand people have now been killed.

There were multiple cease-fires all week,

none of which have held.

One cease-fire was so short, it was technically

only a cease-f...

because fighting resumed before they could even finish

the fucking word.

It has all been enough
to make you wish

for some happier diplomatic news
here at home.

And, luckily,
I have some for you.

Because on Thursday, there was
a House hearing

about U.S./India relations.

And freshman Republican
Curt Clawson took a chance

to reach out to
the House's guests,

Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar.

I went to school in Nagarjuna.

I know Jagapathi.

And these are my friends.

I love Hyderabad.
I love Chennai.

And I'm very familiar with
your country.

Ooh, very nice. I mean...

borderline offensive of
a pronunciation, but very nice.

Just one problem there.

The two people he's talking
to are

not from the Indian government.

They are Americans
from the State Department

and the Commerce Department.

Clawson seems to have been
led astray

by their misleadingly
brown faces.

However, he does not
know this yet.

So let's all sit back and enjoy

a slow moving car crash.

So just as your capital
is welcome here to produce

good-paying jobs in the U.S.,

I'd like our
capital to be welcome there

and there to
be freedom of capital

so that both sides
are on the same territory.

And I ask cooperation
and commitment and priority

from your government
in so doing.

Can I have that?

I think your question is
to the Indian government,

and we certainly share
your sentiments,

and we certainly
will advocate that

on behalf of
the U.S. gov--

CLAWSON: Of course.
OK, let's see some progress.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Whoa, whoa, whoa.

You do not get to pretend that
that did not just happen!

Because that was incredible.

And my favorite part of it--

other than absolutely

is Mr. Kumar, who is absolutely
loving the whole thing.

He's leaning
back in his chair going,

"Oh, this guy is awesome!

"Please nobody tell him.

"I've got 10 bucks which says
he's about to compliment me

for my role
in "Slumdog Millionaire.""

"Ahh! Ooh."

Amazing. Ama--
We needed that.

In other news, there
was potentially horrifying news

about the behavior of ISIS
in northern Iraq.

The UN is attempting to verify
claims that ISIS has ordered

all women in one Iraqi city
to undergo genital mutilation.

That is truly horrific.

Or it would be, if it were
definitely true.

Thankfully, other reports
suggest it could be fake,

although I will say this
to ISIS:

The fact that that seems like
something you would do

still does not reflect
particularly well on you

as an organization.

It's like if someone told you
that Bravo created a spin-off

that's just dogs of housewives

or that Shia LaBeouf
defecated on a homeless man.

Neither of
those things happened,

but they sound like they could have done,

and that's still a problem
for all concerned.

And before everyone gets
too relieved that

female genital mutilation is not
being practiced by ISIS in Iraq,

it is worth remembering it is
still happening

in a shocking number of places,

including, as I learned for
the first time this week, Egypt,

where it happens at a 91% rate
among married women

aged 15 to 49.

That is appalling for Egypt

and absolutely amazing
for whoever it is who does

the branding for Egypt.

Because in light of that

how are pyramids the first thing
we fucking think of?

Failing to mention
genital mutilation first

when you talk about Egypt is
like calling Rob Ford

"that Canadian guy

who famously fought
Toronto's fair wage policy"...

or referring to 9/11
as Harry Connick Jr.'s birthday.

And finally tonight, Thailand.

You may remember a few weeks
ago we talked a little

about Thailand's buffoonish
clown prince

and his miniature poodle called

two things that I would argue
are objectively funny.

However, it turned out this week

that Thailand's aggressive
military government

may not agree with me.

John Oliver is upsetting
one government.

Officials in Thailand
are worried

about Oliver's activities

and that he may be
a threat to its monarchy.

Oh, shit!


Whew. I will say...

I will say this...

if I can bring down your

you have
at best a wobbly monarchy.

Amazingly, this story
might actually be true.

A confidential Thai military
document focused

on overseas activities
that are

"undermining the royal
institution" was leaked.

And you'll notice
3 English words

in the middle of that page.

And, unfortunately, those words are "John William Oliver."


And, yeah, I think deep down,
I always knew

that everyone would find out
my middle name

thanks to an angry Thai
military government.

Clearly there are
some big lessons

to be taken away from this.

One--it seems my Thailand
vacation is going to have to be

postponed very much indefinitely

and--two--this is all happening
because Thailand has

a lese-majeste law,

which can jail people
for insulting the monarchy,

which is stupid.

Other countries have this kind
of law, too.

And they're stupid, as well.

And if I'm not going to Thailand
anytime soon--

and apparently I'm not--let's
burn some more bridges, so...

working from a list...

working from a list
of countries that have

these laws: Hey, Netherlands,
how's Queen Beatrix doing?

By the way, the Dowager Countess
of Grantham would like

her face back.

Hey, Kuwait, what's up with
your current emir?

He looks looks like a police sketch of an evil walnut.

He looks like what you'd get

if Freddie Mercury
fucked a sea turtle.

OK. And finally, Denmark...

Now, I would offer not to make
fun of your Prince Henrik

were it not for the fact that
there is a video

of him getting
into a panda costume

and molesting people

while they're trying
to eat their dinner.

You are the Crown Prince
of Denmark.

You are already an endangered,
meaningless mascot

who exists mainly for people
to take photos with.

Putting on a panda costume is
gilding the lily somewhat.

Your move, Denmark!

I await my Danish
prison sentence.

Please take me to
your impeccably furnished

birch wood cell.

I await my dinner of adorably
tiny, little cheeses.

And now this...

WOMAN: I'm gonna file this
next story

under "stories my producer is
making me do

that I don't agree with,"
but OK.

I know we're tired of
covering Miley Cyrus,

but we had to include

this final headline.

I didn't believe our
producers when we

first started

the Rodman story.

I wish that he
becomes irrelevant

as soon as possible.

NEWSCASTER: There is breaking
news now on Fox News Channel--

It's not really that breaking.

I mean, everybody knew this
was gonna happen.

Even I knew this was
gonna happen.

Well, we saw
the obligatory

chopper aerials
of the Biebs.

He's pushing important
news off the front page.

It shouldn't even
be a story.

We shouldn't
even be covering it,

but that's not
the world we live in.

Why are we still talking
about Monica Lewinsky?

Why are we talking
about 2016?

What aspect of this
is newsworthy?

MAN: Should
we even give that

the credence
of covering it?

HOST: I just read it,
so I would say ye--

MAN: I know.

Moving on. Moving on.

Our main story tonight is

the threat
of nuclear annihilation.

It's probably been a while
since you've thought

about it, but there was a time
when people lived

in almost constant fear.

Children used to be shown this
in schools.

holidays, vacation time,

we must be ready every day, all the time,

to do the right thing
if the atomic bomb explodes.

Duck and cover!

I will say this for the 1950s--

they had the perfect blend of
optimism and pessimism.

"The death blast is coming,
but we'll survive it

if we all get
under this picnic blanket."

Now, by the 1980s, attitudes
had changed.

The TV movie "The Day After"
had a slightly different tone.

See if you can spot it.

Danny! Don't
look at it!

Oh, my--

The worst thing is,
Danny would have been fine

if he'd just had
a picnic blanket with him.

What were you thinking,
you little fool?

The strange thing is, all of
that seems so dated.

we spend less time

worrying about
nuclear annihilation

than we do worrying about
whether we accidentally hit

"Reply all" on an office email.

"Oh, shit. Did I send that
to Dave?

I said "his face looks like
a ferret."

But maybe we should be worrying

about nuclear warheads
a bit more,

and not the ones in North Korea,
Iran, or Russia,

but the ones we have
here at home.

America has around 4,800
nuclear warheads,

which is more than enough
not just to destroy Earth,

but to provide 4th of July
fireworks for Martians.

Some of our most
powerful weapons are

intercontinental ballistic
missiles, ICBMs,

which is both an acronym

and what you would say
if you saw one coming at you.

That's a little joke for all you
gastroenterologists out there.

They are currently in silos
in Wyoming, Montana,

and North Dakota.

Let's start with Wyoming.

How well are we taking
care of these things?

Take this enormous outer door

designed to protect the corridor
leading to the capsule.

They can't close it
because of a broken part,

so it's propped open
with a crowbar

and marked with a "danger" tag.


to be honest, repairs like that
are less appropriate

in a nuclear silo

than they are
in a divorced dad's condo.

"Why does the fridge open
with string, Daddy?"

And for the record--
for the record,

it's not just their hardware
that needs updating.

It's their software, too.

The equipment is ancient.

This, for example, is one of
the computers that would receive

a launch order
from the president.

It uses floppy disks,

the really old, big ones.

Holy shit!

Those things barely
look powerful enough to run

Oregon Trail...

much less Earth-ending weaponry.

People who work there must watch
"WarGames" and go,

"One day! One day we'll
get to play with that stuff."

Look, fingers crossed,

things are a little better
in North Dakota.

Seventeen Air Force officers
are being relieved

of their duties controlling
nuclear missiles.

REPORTER: An inspection in March
tested the group's

missile launch proficiency.

They were rated as marginal,

the equivalent of earning

a D grade. Barely passing.

That's not great.

I do really think when it comes
to safeguarding

the deadliest objects ever known
to mankind, we should really

insist on something more
in a solid B-plus/C-minus range.

OK, finally let's look
at Montana.

The good news--their offices
have not had D grades.

The bad news is why.

Thirty-four U.S. Air Force
nuclear launch officers

have been stripped of their

REPORTER: Four months ago,
a launch officer

at Malmstrom Air Force Base
in Montana allegedly texted

the answers to
a monthly proficiency test

to other officers at the base.

They texted the answers!

Those answers should not
be textable.

You should not be able
to answer, "How do you prevent

the launch of a Minuteman III?,"

with emojis.

It has to be more complicated
than that.

But, OK, OK, look, let's not

Now, not everyone is good
at tests.

How are the people
in North Dakota and Montana

working in the field?

REPORTER: Picture this--
4 Air Force officers

who hold the launch keys
to nuclear missiles

leaving open the blast door
that's supposed to prevent

terrorists from entering
the capsule.

This while another slept inside,
which is allowed

only if the door is closed.

And who discovered this?

In one case,
it was a maintenance team.

In another case,
it was discovered

by someone
delivering food.

And once again, America
is saved from destruction

by the heroes in Meal Team 6.

And in case you think it's just
low-level, unmotivated officers

who are dropping the ball here,
let's meet two of the top people

who've been in charge of
our most powerful missiles.

First up,
Major General Michael Carey.

He was relieved of command
last October

for spectacular reasons.

REPORTER: According to
an Air Force inspector general's

report, on a recent
trip to Russia,

Air Force General Michael Carey
was often intoxicated, rude,

and spent a lot of time
with foreign women.

He often
interrupted presentations.

He often interrupted translators
with annoying comments

when he gave toasts...

That really irritated
the Russians.

Just think about that.

The man overseeing our ICBMs
was too drunk for the Russians.

For the Russians!

And CNN barely skimmed
the surface of this story.

The inspector general's report

reads like
"Ron Burgundy Goes to Russia."

Apparently, General Carey at
one point tried to fist-bump

a confused Russian tour guide,

then dragged his staff to
a restaurant called La Cantina

because he, and I quote,

"really wanted to see
this Beatles cover band,"

prompting one staffer
to observe,

"I wouldn't pick a Mexican place
to go in Russia,

but all right, if that's where
he wants to go, we'll go there."

And even once he was there,
it wasn't over.

Because he again, and I quote,
"was really intent on singing

with the band."

And he said, "Go ask them if
I can play guitar,"

which led to the immortal

"I told the General
that basically, um, you know,

that he can't,
he can't play the guitars."

Take a moment to consider
the run of poor decisions

that are required before you're
being told you can't play guitar

with a Beatles cover band
when you're drunk

at a Mexican restaurant
in Russia.

Just add all that up

And then consider,
this man had access

to our deadliest
nuclear warheads.

And in case that doesn't scare
you enough,

until recently one of the men overseeing

all the people we've
met so far

was Vice Admiral Tim Giardina.

The president relieved him of
his command last year

for an even weirder reason.

Timothy Giardina's undoing began

with a local
criminal investigation in Iowa,

where he was spotted
on surveillance cameras using

counterfeit poker chips

at the Horseshoe Casino
in Council Bluffs.

OK, OK, I'm sorry,
but a vice admiral has to have

the mental fortitude to fool
an Iowa pit boss. You have to.

You have to.

And, also, this means--
let's recap--

that within the last 12 months,
we were in a situation

where in the event of
us launching a nuclear strike,

the president's command
would theoretically have gone

through a man gambling
with fake poker chips,

who would have then tried
to call a drunk guy

wrestling with
a Russian George Harrison,

who would have then needed
to send someone

with a bag full of burritos to
wake up an officer

and tell him to go grab
an LP-sized floppy disc

and begin the solemn process of
ending the world as we know it.


And if...

if you're thinking, "Well,
it looks like we were lucky

nothing terrible has happened,"

we're actually even luckier
than you think.

Over the years, America has had
some pretty terrifying


The Goldsboro incident of 1961--

that's when a U.S. B-52
bomber jet broke in half

during a flight and lost
its load--two nuclear bombs.

Where was it flying at the time?
Over the city of Goldsboro,

North Carolina.

Both bombs plummeted
to the ground.

One was nearly armed,

set to explode,

but miraculously, neither did.

Yeah, you dropped
an armed nuclear bomb

on your own country.

And it is, frankly, amazing

that you don't talk
about that more often.

There is genuinely a weirdly
restrained sign marking

the event, calling it
a "nuclear mishap,"

when it clearly should
really say,

"Holy Fuck! You have no idea
what nearly happened here!"

And--I know...

I know you're probably thinking,

"OK, all right. We nearly blew
up one of the Carolinas,

but that's basically why we
have two."

But--but in that case, how about
that one time we risked

blowing up Arkansas?

Someone dropped a socket
in the silo.

And the socket fell
about 70 feet,

pierced the missile,
caused a fuel leak.

And then there was
a huge explosion.

Just think about the system
we have designed.

In the rock/paper/scissors

socket beats nuclear missile.

And if that feels too much
like ancient history to you,

here is something from
as recently as 2007.

REPORTER: Six nuclear-tipped
cruise missiles

were loaded onto a B-52
by mistake,

flown across the country,

and left unguarded
on the Tarmac.

No one noticed for 36 hours.

And that must have been a hell
of a moment when they realized,

"Hey, guys, um, those things
that have been out there

"for a day and a half, there is
no way that those are nuclear--


It seems clear at this point, we
have too many nuclear weapons

to take care of them properly.

So why aren't we reducing them?

Well, we were, to be fair.

Since 1988, we got rid of more
than 18,000 warheads,

but recently, things
have slowed down a lot.

President Obama has reduced
our arsenal by just 309,

which is crazy.

At a time of budgetary cutbacks,
we are spending $355 billion

over the next decade
on something we don't need.

And don't take that from me.

Take it from someone
who actually knows

something about this.

The one thing I
convinced myself of

after all these
years of exposure

to the use of
nuclear weapons is

that they were

Yeah. Nuclear weapons are
basically like Americans'

"T. rex" arms.

They're essentially useless,

and you are plenty scary enough
without them.

When you have...

when you have 4,800 of something
you don't need,

you are a fucking hoarder
at that point.

It's like having 4,800 cats.

Sure, each one might have made
sense when you got it,

but it all happened
so gradually,

you didn't really notice that
things had gotten out of hand.

And now you have too many

of these agents of chaos
and destruction.

And one of these days,
one of them might kill you.

The problem is there are
two key things stopping us

from reducing
our nuclear weapons.

The first is politics.

Because there are lawmakers from
both parties who have

missile silos in their states.

And they will fight any attempt
to close them,

no matter how much sense
that makes.

And they'll fight it with ironclad logic like this...

We know that maintaining
our current silos is the best

interest--and in the best
interest of taxpayers

because rebuilding them
would be very expensive.

OK, let me get that straight.

You are spending money
on something you don't need

in the hopes that you'll be
saving money

on the off chance one day
you eventually do need...

What exactly
are you saying, then?

That's desperate.

That's like saying,
"I have to hold on

"to my storage facility
full of Aquaman action figures

on the off chance that my
future wife really likes them."

She will not. She will not!

She will not want those things.

"You don't need them!"

The man there,
that's Steve Daines.

And the House was discussing
a bill that guaranteed

that silos would be kept open
until at least 2021.

He was trying to attach
an amendment

the end date altogether,

essentially meaning, no matter
what the Pentagon wanted,

the silos would have to be
kept open forever.

It was clearly
a ridiculous amendment.

Let's now watch it pass.

MAN: On this vote, the yeas

are 222; the nays are 196.

The amendment is adopted.

That is some weapons grade

Now, the Senate could still make
big changes to that bill.

But for that to happen,
people would need to care.

And that brings us to
the main reason why so little is

being done to reduce our number
of nuclear warheads.

Deep down, people just don't
give enough of a shit anymore.

In the 1980s,
hundreds of thousands of people

pushed for disarmament
in Central Park.

But in May of this year,
this is what a House hearing

on nuclear security looks like.

We should point out probably
one of the few hearings

in which, actually,
the attendance

of the subcommittee compares
very favorably

with the attendance
in the audience.

Because the public has not
tuned in to these issues

as they should.

That's right.

A hearing on the most dangerous
things on Earth had

attendance rivaling that of
a weekday open mike poetry slam.

And the problem is,
no one honestly believes

that we're going to destroy

despite the fact that

that has nearly happened
multiple times.

But shouldn't we, at the very
least, be reducing our stockpile

down to a number where
we can look after them properly

with enough qualified people,

none of whom are going
to cheat on a test,

leave a door open, or vomit
a half-eaten chimichanga

onto a Slavic Ringo?

All I'm saying is, if humanity
is going to be destroyed

by a nuclear weapon,

let's make sure
that it's at least intentional.

Let's have it be
a U.S. president

riding a missile
with a middle finger

held to the sky,

screaming humanity's last words:
"Fuck you, world!

America is shutting
this shit down."


let's just not have our
last words be, "Oops. Oh, shit."

And now this...

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Who's got the camera?

Who let the dogs out?
Who? Who?

MAN: I deserve to be paid more.

And I'm only a freshman,
and I'm already complaining.

Show me the money.

Show me the money.

As George Costanza would say
when they're applauding,

"Stop right now," right?

That takes me back to another
modern-day poet

by the name of Jay-Z.

In one of his songs, he wrote:

"It's funny what 7 days
can change.

It was all good just
a week ago."

MAN: I've been
the original cosponsor

of this bill ever since I got
here to Congress.

If I can quote L.L. Cool J,
the rapper,

"Don't call it a comeback.
I've been here for years."

DIFFERENT MAN: This may go back to "A Few Good Men," the movie

with Jack Nicholson.

"You can't handle the truth."

WOMAN: But struggling
Nevada families are asking,

"Where's the beef?"

ROMNEY: I was thinking about
Davy Crockett.

Remember the song?

"Born on a mountaintop in

Greenest state in the land
of the free.

Raised in the woods so he knew
every tree.

And he kills himself a bear
when he was only 3.

Davy, Davy Crocket...


That guy has his finger on
the pulse.

Finally tonight, look, I know
that in the last few weeks,

we've been covering a lot of
depressing stories.

But I'm afraid I have one more
terrible tale to tell you.

Russia has lost contact
with a satellite

full of possibly mating geckos.

Russia launched the geckos into
space about a week ago.

They were trying to observe
their mating activities

in zero gravity.

But after just a few orbits,
their pod stopped responding

to mission control.

Don't you dare laugh at that!

Don't--don't you dare laugh

at the fact that Russia
has lost a satellite

full of sexually-active
space geckos.

There is nothing funny
about that!

This is like "Apollo 13"
all over again,

only in Cyrillic

and with a quintet
of Russian fuck lizards

instead of Tom Hanks.

And, frankly, Russia has
not been treating this story

with the urgency it deserves.

REPORTER: Russia's hoping
to restore communications

before the geckos
run out of food.


That is not good enough, Russia.

You can't just watch videos of
them fucking

and then toss them aside.

They're not Kardashians.

And, look, look...

they're geckos.

And, look, you might be saying,

"John, why are you making such
a big deal out of this?

Aren't there more important
things going on in the world?"

Well, yes, obviously.

Almost everything is more
important than this.

Ukraine is sliding into anarchy;

the Gaza cease-fire is tenuous;

and we're mostly powerless
to do anything

about any of them.

But maybe, just maybe, if we
could come together

and accomplish
one thing as a civilization,

we could then build on that

And I think rescuing
these space sex geckos

might just be that thing.

And that is why I'm issuing
a challenge to humanity:

Go get those geckos.

Now, I know what
you're thinking.

I know what you're thinking.

"John, how is a hashtag
going to rescue those geckos?"

The hashtag is to raise
awareness, you idiots!

Be positive!

And, look, you can
and should do more.

You could go on to the Kremlin's
contact page,

which inexplicably has a form
allowing you

to actually write Vladimir Putin
a letter,

which you can do
at this address.

And, look, look,
take this seriously.

Don't be idiots about this.

The Kremlin insists--
this is true--

that your suggestions be,
and I quote, "specific."

And I do not know of
a more specific suggestion

than "Go get those geckos!"

How are we gonna do it?
What's that?

How are we gonna get them?
I don't know. I don't know.

I'm not a space pornographer.

Maybe a net of some sort
or a magnet. I don't know.

Maybe you've got
some better ideas.

And if you do, don't tell me.

Tell Vladimir Putin at this

We can do this, people.

And, sure, Russia's gonna push
back, like they did yesterday,

saying they've reestablished
contact with the satellite.

But they're clearly lying.

They're just buying Putin enough
time to run to a pet store,

get 5 geckos, and parade them
in front of us.

Well, we don't want
those geckos!

We want the space geckos!

Come on, humanity.

Let us stand together as one,

and let us utter the most
powerful words

in the English language,

"Mr. Putin,
go get those geckos"!

That's our show.
Thanks so much for watching.

We'll be back next week,

and, God willing, so will
the geckos. Good night!

Go get those geckos!

Go get those geckos.

Go get those geckos!

Go get those geckos.

Go get those geckos!

Go get those geckos!

We'll get those geckos.

We will get those
geckos for you.

Get those geckos!

Get the geckos!

Go get the geckos!

Get the geckos!

Get the...

Get the geckos.
Get the geckos.


Listen, we want
those geckos.

Go get the geckos!