Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 1, Episode 17 - Scottish Independence Referendum - full transcript

John discusses the Scottish independence referendum and corporations using Twitter.

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Welcome, welcome, welcome to "Last Week Tonight."

I'm John Oliver. Thank you for being with us.

Just time for a quick recap of the week,

and it has been dominated here in the U.S. by the NFL,

the FIFA of American sports.

In July, there was outrage

when Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens

received just a two-game suspension

after assaulting his then-fiancee.

That outrage over that decision only got louder this week

when a horrifying video of the assault was released.



Many in the world of sport
were rightly disgusted,

although often for
unnecessarily specific reasons.

If my daughter
was to, you know,

get hit like that
from another man,

you know, I'd have
a serious problem with it.

Having a daughter
and having a wife, you know,

I agree with their decision.

Take your sister,
your mom,

your significant other,

if you have a daughter,

and just put her face
on Janay Rice's face.

Now tell me, would you give the guy
a second chance then?

Or--or--here's a crazy idea--

you could put away your magic
face-switching machine



and just be upset
about the incident

as it actually happened.

Because you should not
need to insert a relative

into a horrifying situation
to make it horrific.

For instance, I hate Sea World's
treatment of whales

on principle alone, not just
because my father is an orca.

See you at Christmas, Dad.

I'll bring some fish.

The NFL has behaved
characteristically appallingly

throughout this
entire controversy.

But perhaps the most amazing
response of the week

came from Ravens owner
Steve Bisciotti,

a candy apple with teeth,

who--who--who has admitted
failing to do enough

when the assault
first happened,

but who is now,
for some reason,

trying to spin this whole mess
as a positive.

If this is a seminal moment
for domestic violence

and the way we handle it
as a society,

then that's not a burden
for us to be that poster boy.

It's not.

Now, I'm embarrassed about it,

but 5 years from now,
things have changed

significantly for the better,
I'll be proud of it.

What? "Really, you should
all be thanking me.

"I've handled this
situation so badly,

"I might accidentally instigate social progress.

"Think of it this way--
you don't get to Rosa Parks

"without Rosa Parks'
bus driver,

"and that is me!

"You're welcome, everyone!
You're welcome.

I did it!"

Now, moving on--
moving on, ISIS.

Their influence in the Middle
East grows, and on Wednesday,

the president announced
to the nation that yet again,

America would launch a military
intervention into Iraq.

Our objective is clear--

we will degrade and ultimately
destroy ISIL

through a comprehensive
and sustained

counter-terrorism strategy.

As Americans, we welcome
our responsibility to lead.

Yeah, but do we welcome
it in this case?

Or is it like when the printer
at work runs out of toner

and there's no one else around
who can fix it?

"Aw, shit, do I really have to
take the lead on this again?

Fuck! Nobody else,
nobody else."

Here's the problem--
almost everyone on Earth

would like ISIS gone.

And yet, understandably,
no one is eager

to be the one to deal with it.

Which is why--as difficult
as this might be--

Americans need to come together
and demand, with one voice,

that Peru should really
do something about this.

Seriously, Peru. Seriously.

ISIS, Peru, poses a threat
to the entire globe,

and you are just sitting there!

Life isn't just a fairytale land
of alpacas and pan flutes, Peru.

At some point, you've got to
pull your weight.

And don't give me the whole,
"Oh, but John,

"our population is
the size of Texas,

and the war on terror is a
hopeless geopolitical paradox!"

That's bullshit, Peru!

And also, it is not like you've
got better things to do.

I have seen how you people
spend your time.

If you have a pet,
a lot of you,

a lot of us have
taught the pet

to sit, shake,
maybe roll over.

What about surf?

MAN: A Peruvian man has trained
his pet alpaca to do just that.

Alpacas are from
the Andean highlands,

are raised by Peruvians
for their wool.

Pisco the alpaca, who wears
a flotation vest...

FEMALE NEWSCASTER: I hope so.

and surfs for a little while
and then eventually goes,

"Ooh, get me out of here!"

Oh, oh, oh, sure.
That looks fun.

But playtime's over, assholes!

ISIS is a menace, and it is
100% up to you, Peru,

to get rid of them.

Then, and only then,

do you have permission to
clamber back on a surfboard

with a sopping-wet alpaca.

And finally this week,

there was some big news
from the world of food.

Specifically, Olive Garden.

They started the week launching
their latest promotion.

Olive Garden is taking all you
can eat to a whole new level.

The chain now is introducing
a never-ending pasta pass.

So, for $100, you can
eat all the pasta, salad,

bread, and soft drinks
you want for 7 weeks.

7 weeks of Olive Garden food.

That is pretty much a one-way
ticket to the hospitaliano.

Now, unfortunately,
unfortunately for them,

their publicity bump
was undercut

when an activist hedge fund

seeking to replace
Olive Garden's management

released this damning report
essentially pointing out that

all that pasta
you can eat is shit.

Darden Restaurant's beating on
earnings but gets handed

a 300--300-slide presentation

from activist
hedge fund Starboard

with advice on how to cut costs

and improve its
Olive Garden chain,

which, of course,
that makes sense,

including, though, easing up
on bread, pushing more alcohol,

and salting the pasta water.

That's right.
Because according to

one of the slides,

they no longer put salt in the
water they use to boil pasta,

because that way,
this is the reason,

they get a longer warranty
on their pots.

Although what is
really shocking there

is that Olive Garden
uses pots at all.

I always just assumed that
they microwaved cold pasta

between two damp paper towels.

That's what it tastes like.

The slides--the slides go on

to argue that
Olive Garden serves

"a mushy, unappealing product."

Also, that "fried lasagna bites
are not authentic Italian,"

describing them
as "barely edible."

Also, saying of another dish,

"Vegetable lasagna topped with
chicken doesn't make any sense,"

which is fair,

and also that customers are
"consistently disappointed."

But my favorite slide
shows a photo

of the vegetable lasagna
on the menu,

and then juxtaposes that

with what customers
were actually served.

What happened there?

I can only presume that between
the first and the second photo,

that vegetable
lasagna developed

a massive
crystal meth addiction.

And if you think that
PowerPoint presentation

was aggressive, just wait until
you see the ads they're running

to shame Olive Garden
into changing its ways.

MAN: Come on down
to Olive Garden

for an inauthentic
Italian experience

that is guaranteed
to leave your family

consistently disappointed.

Our food is mushy, unappealing,
barely edible,

and looks nothing
like any of this.

And while you're here,
come visit our kitchen

to see our many still-
under-warranty pots,

uncorroded by any
form of seasoning

that might pleasure
a customer's mouth.

That's why we have some of
the oldest pots around.

In fact, think of us
as a pot museum

that occasionally serves
something resembling food.

Because we care about them a lot
more than we care about you.

But our main story--

our main story
this week is Scotland.

Americans know it as
the birthplace of Shrek

and that accent you think you
can do but actually can't.

Well, this coming Thursday,

Scotland is facing a major decision.

MAN: Scotland will
vote this week

on whether to leave
the United Kingdom.

For the first time
in modern history,

London could be at risk of
losing control of Scotland.

It could become
its own country.

Yes, it seems like England
may lose yet another country.

And look, look, I'm not saying

the sun is setting
on the British empire.

Let's just say
the restaurant of history

is switching to its
dinner menu.

Now, now, there is
a lot to explain here,

especially because when
most American people

think about
Scottish independence,

they tend to picture this.

They may take our lives, but
they'll never take our freedom!

Ah, yes, nothing screams
"Scottish freedom" quite like

a millionaire Australian
anti-Semite on horseback.

So--so--let me--let me
bring you up to date here.

Scotland is currently a member
of the United Kingdom,

which is not a country.

It's actually a complicated political and economic union.

Think of it as
an archipelagic supergroup

comprised of 4 variously
willing members.

And to understand why
Scotland may want to leave,

you really need to understand
the history

of its relationship
with England.

MAN: For centuries, England
and Scotland remained separate

and frequently at war.

But in 1707, they formed a
single country, Great Britain,

a decision that's
been controversial

in Scotland ever since.

Oh, yeah, I'd say it's still
controversial, given that--

as you can see here--
we are still

role-playing with wooden swords

to try and emotionally
work through it.

So, Scotland and England have
been involved in something of a

300-year arranged marriage.

And look, I will be
the first one to acknowledge,

England has been a little bit
of a dick since the honeymoon.

In 1746, we actually
banned the kilt,

just because we knew
they liked it.

And then we chose
"God Save the King"

as the U.K.'s national anthem,
a song which at one point

had a verse referencing
"Rebellious Scots to crush."

Although--although to be fair,
we later realized that was wrong

and replaced it with a line
about pissing on the Welsh.

But 2 1/2 years ago, it was
announced that Scotland would

finally get to vote
on its independence.

And since then, there has been
a spirited campaign.

WOMAN: There are
two campaigns--

"Yes, Scotland,"
backed by the S.N.P.

and the Scottish Greens,
and "Better Together."

OK, for a start,
"Better Together"

is not a great name
for a campaign.

It sounds like what people say
to convince themselves

to stay in a dead marriage.

"Look, look, I'm not saying
we're good together, Marion.

"I'm saying we're
better together.

"Tax-wise, it's preferable
to the alternative.

Why are you crying, Marion?
I'm saying something nice."

And if you think their
name is uninspiring,

wait until you hear
their slogan.

No, thanks.

No, thanks.

No, thanks.

No, thanks.

No, thanks is a violently
British way to refuse something.

That is just one step away from
"Oh, I couldn't possibly."

But--but what is--what's--what's
even more interesting here

is who is helping fund
these two campaigns.

"Harry Potter" author
J.K. Rowling

wants Scotland to stay
part of the U.K.

Rowling has
donated $1.6 million

to the Better
Together campaign.

Yeah, but that's not
really a surprise, is it?

She famously wrote a book where
a redhead played second fiddle

to a magical Englishman.

"Come along, Ron.
Come along.

"I shall have all the powers,

"and your brothers can die
fighting my wars.

Come along, come along."

Meanwhile, meanwhile,
the opposing side has received

80% of its funding from
these two people.

WOMAN: Jackpot!
A Scottish couple scoop

161 million pounds
on the lottery,

making them Europe's
biggest-ever winners.

That's right.
The pro-independence campaign

is predominantly financed
by lottery winners.

They're like an adorable
Scottish version

of the Koch brothers.

So--so let's just look
at the two arguments.

First, the case in favor
of Scottish independence.

We can take matters
into Scottish hands.

No one, absolutely no one, will
run the affairs of this country

better than the people who
live and work in Scotland.

And to be fair, he might
be right about that.

Scots know how
to run a country.

Because when they got to choose
a national animal,

they selected--and I swear
this is true--a unicorn.

Who knew you were
allowed to do that?

Pick a fictional animal?
Yeah. Yeah.

America's probably
kicking itself for choosing

the bald eagle now, aren't you?

You could've picked
a Wookiee in a top hat,

or whatever the fuck
Grimace is. Look.

He looks like a magic genie

granted a wish to
Gorbachev's birthmark.

But--and also--also,
for their national flower,

the Scots chose a thistle.

That is a plant made
out of tiny knives

and a throwing staff!

"The only flower I like
is a flower that could

pierce an Englishman's throat!"

And look, look, there are
legitimate reasons

for Scotland to want
to govern itself.

For instance, it's a
predominantly liberal country,

which has frequently been
governed by a conservative

U.K. government.

And seldom has that divide
been more pronounced

than right now, when the U.K.'s
prime minister is David Cameron.

MAN: Cameron's problem is that
as a posh southern Tory,

he's seen in Scotland as the
personification of everything

that's wrong with
England and the U.K.

Yeah, I agree with that.

He embodies all the things
I hate most about England,

and I'm English!

Let me prove this to you.

This is a picture of him
as a student at Oxford.

He's in fucking tails!

Now, Cameron says he's

desperately embarrassed
by that photo,

which is why it pains me so much
to be showing it to you.

Can we get a close-up
on his face?

Because that is
the face of a man

who fast-forwards through
the servant parts

of "Downton Abbey."
Just--"Uh. Uh."

"Who cares what's
happening downstairs? Uh.

Let's just hope the soup
doesn't get cold."

In fact, let me show you what
an asshole David Cameron is.

One of the biggest issues
in the independence debate

concerns the fact
that Scotland has

a surprisingly large
amount of oil.

But watch how
David Cameron responded

to a simple
parliamentary question

about who should control
revenues from it.

A poll last week
showed that 68% of Scots

want oil revenues
devolved to Scotland.

Does the prime minister agree

with 68% of Scots,
or does he not?

If, uh...

if you ask a stupid question,
you get a stupid answer.

Waaa, waaa, waaa!
Waaa, waaa, waaa, waaa, waaa!

Imagine that sound
for 300 years,

and it gives you some sense
of why Scotland

may be ready to leave.

OK, so, let's look at the
anti-independence campaign now.

Clearly, they had some
serious work to do.

Unfortunately, their attempts
to win hearts and minds

involved this controversial
commercial, targeted at women,

featuring a Scottish mother

confused by the whole
concept of independence

who has just sent her kids
off to school.

Best time of the day, this.
When they're all out.

Nice and quiet.
Gives you time to think.

Helps you clear your head.

Shame it only lasts
for two minutes.

Don't get me wrong, I know
how important this vote is.

There's not much time left
for me to make a decision.

But there's only so many
hours in the day.

"Oh! It's so confusing!
It hurts my wee head!

"I'm just a woman.

"Y'know, just a pair of ovaries
and some bangs.

"How do I possibly have
the mental capacity

"to pick from one
of two options?

"Put me down for a "no,"
and never trust me

with an important
decision again."

What is--what's crazy
about this--

the crazy thing about this is
that the anti-independence side

actually has some legitimate
arguments to make.

Leaving the U.K. could
potentially have some serious

consequences for Scotland.

MAN: If they vote
for independence,

Scots have been warned
that they risk

losing the pound
as their currency.

Yeah, they could lose the pound,
and that's not nothing.

Because if they do,
they'd either have to join

the currently-unstable Euro
or revert to Scotland's

old currency, which I believe
was sheep and threats.

"I'll give you 3 sheep for it
and a punch in the face.

Do we have a fucking deal?"

Why do they hate us?

And--and also, while
the pro-independence campaign

has put a great deal of
emphasis on Scotland's oil,

there are genuine concerns over
how much might actually be left.

MAN: Reserves are dwindling.

The Office for
Budget Responsibility

expects the number of barrels
produced to decline from

two million a day in 2012 to
just half a million in 2040.

And if that's true,
that might be a problem,

because if you've ever
been there, you will know that

solar power is not
an option for Scotland.

So, those are the two sides.

And with the vote
just days away,

this thing is set to
go down to the wire.

WOMAN: This morning in shock,
Brits woke up

to headlines like these--

"Don't let me be the last
queen of Scotland,"

"Last stand to keep the union."

A new poll for the U.K.
"Sunday Times" newspaper shows

51% of Scots plan to vote
yes for independence.

And if it comes down to just
one vote, we all know

who will be called upon
to break that tie.

Go with your gut, Nessie.
You do you, Nessie.

You do you.

It seems--it seems like

there is a real chance that
Scotland may leave.

And if they do,
just so you know,

there are going to be some
significant consequences

for everybody.

MAN: They might also
have to say cheerio

to something more symbolic,
the beloved Union Jack.

You see, the current flag,
which hasn't changed

in over 200 years,
is a mix between

England's cross of St. George,

Scotland's cross of St. Andrew,

and Ireland's cross
of St. Patrick.

The government could
ditch the blue and white

cross of St. Andrew for
something that looks like this.

Oh, great. Great.
Well, there goes

my fucking bedspread,

my shower curtain, my wallpaper,
and my dog.

Unbelievable.
We can't do it.

But it--it is not just flags
that are a cause for concern.

There is also the small
matter of this.

The Scottish National Party
wants to get rid

of the nuclear weapons that are
currently based in Scotland

and ship them back to England,
and that would be a huge problem

for the United Kingdom.

Yeah, that would also be a huge
problem for everybody,

because we have nowhere
to keep them right now.

I guess we could disguise them
as Buckingham Palace guards,

but people are going to
notice that after a while.

And Scotland wants
those weapons gone.

Their leaders have described
them as--and I quote--

"an affront to basic decency."

And this is coming from
the land of the haggis,

a boiled sheep's stomach
stuffed with organ meat.

It is no wonder
the British government

is suddenly panicking.

They are scrambling to
make nice with Scotland,

but here's the problem--when
you haven't been nice to someone

for a thousand years, it's very
difficult to suddenly start.

For instance, last week, they
tried raising the Scottish flag

over 10 Downing Street.

Watch how that went.

MAN: On the roof
of Downing Street,

on the orders of the prime
minister, no less.

A moment of high symbolism.

Oh, dear.

And it's not as though everything

was going swimmingly before.

That's right.

Not even English flag poles

can suddenly start
treating Scotland

with the respect it deserves.

"Get this rag off me!

"Get it off.
I can't.

Get this blue mess off me!"

And, and in a last-ditch effort,
David Cameron has even tried,

like a romantic hero,
to turn up at Scotland's door

and plead for them,
plead for them not to leave.

I would be heartbroken
if this family of nations

that we've put together,

and that we've done such
amazing things together,

if this family of nations
was torn apart.

That's it?

That's the best
pleading you've got?

There are only 4 days left.

Look, if I've learned one thing

from the last 4 minutes of
British romantic comedies,

it's that's if you're trying
to win someone over,

you need a big
romantic gesture.

A kiss in the rain.
A kiss in the snow.

Turning up to someone's door
with romantic signs

expressing your love for them,

because you can't say it
out loud because her husband,

your best friend,
is in the next room,

which is a bit fucked-up,
but, but, but it is effective.

It's effective.
So, with that in mind,

let's do this,
because right now, Scotland,

I'm just a boy, standing
in front of a nation,

asking it to continue
tolerating me.

You want me to show you
what I'm

willing to do to save
this relationship?

Here, I will eat some haggis.
Look. I'll do it.

Mmm. Mmm.
Oh. Oh, yes.

Mmm, sheep lungs.

There are literally
sheep lungs in my mouth.

Let me just wash that down with
some fine Scottish whiskey.

like a delicious house fire!

Look at me, Scotland.
I'm drunk on scotch,

I'm trying to choke back
sheep-lung vomit,

so kiss me, Scotland.

What do you mean
this isn't enough?

Look! Look!
Here's your national animal!

There it is.
Hello, unicorn. Hello.

And if that's not enough, I'll
make the ultimate sacrifice.

Oh, yes.
That's right,

I will feign enjoyment
of bagpipe music,

the atonal death squeal
of your people.

I believe this particular song

is called "Cat Bronchitis
in A minor."

And I love it.

In fact, there's just
one problem--

it's simply not loud enough.

MAN: And now,
newscasters misidentifying

photographs as selfies.

WOMAN: Team U.S.A.
taking this selfie.

WOMAN: He even finds time
for the obligatory selfie.

WOMAN: How often do you get
a selfie with a lemur?

WOMAN: There's even a doggy
selfie station.

MAN: Look at him.
Ooh. Nice.

That's a selfie.

MAN: That's the back of a pickup
truck rolling down the highway.

That's a selfie, huh?

MAN: That is
the ultimate selfie.

And finally tonight,

finally tonight, Twitter.

It's not just for pithy
observations, dick pics,

or messages to your favorite
One Direction member

who for some reason
never responds to you.

What is wrong, Liam?

What part of "u up?"
don't you understand?

It has also become
a valuable venue

for hashtag discussions
on serious social issues.

For instance, this week,

after the release of
the Ray Rice video,

Twitter was the home
for a national conversation

about domestic violence.

On the hashtags, "Why I stayed"
and "Why I left,"

brave survivors are exposing
the vicious cycle of abuse.

MAN: Because every time
was the last time.

#whyistayed.

And because I was pregnant

and wanted my daughter
to have a dad.

#whyistayed.

Now, that is clearly
a positive tool.

Giving victims a voice
and providing everyone else

a glimpse into the complicated
realities of the issue.

The problem is when something
like this then happens.

Pizza maker DiGiorno
is under fire tonight

about using a Twitter hashtag
about domestic violence

in order to promote itself.

A message saying "You had pizza"
with the hashtag "Why I stayed."

Wow, DiGiorno.
That is a fuckup.

I did not think
you could do anything

more viscerally offensive than
produce a microwaveable pizza,

but I was wrong.

Here is the problem--

Twitter conversations
and corporations don't mix.

For instance, there was a tweet
this week marking 9/11

saying today is the 13th
anniversary of 9/11.

We remember those lost
and honor those

still fighting for freedom.

#911never forget.

It's a fine tweet.

It's just a little weird
that it came from--

and this is true--Fleshlight,

the famous purveyors of
fake vaginas on a stick.

And look, I--I hate to sound
old-fashioned here,

but when in deep grief,
I don't want to hear anything

from a cylinder topped
with a silicone replica

of a woman's genitals you can
stick your dick in.

You really want that cylinder
to remain respectfully silent.

And it wasn't just Fleshlight.

The Build-a-Bear Workshop
tweeted this picture

of a bear wearing camouflage,

and Medieval Times
posted this image.

Oh, yes, those horses will never
forget where they were on 9/11,

presumably because they were in
a dark basement in New Jersey,

being fed rotten carrots
by a suburban teenager

dressed as a squire.

But that's not the point.

That's not the point.

Look. Look, companies.

Your silence is never
going to be controversial.

No one will ever go,
"I can't believe it.

"Skittles didn't tweet
about 9/11 yesterday.

"They must support terrorism.

I'm never eating them again."

And yet, companies keep trying
to get involved in conversations

they have no business being in.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day,
Popchips posted a quote

referring to him as
"an eternal poptimist."

On--on Pearl Harbor's
anniversary,

SpaghettiOs
tweeted this picture

of a SpaghettiO holding an American flag.

And when Casey Anthony
was acquitted

and "not guilty" was trending,

Entenmann's got involved,
tweeting,

"Who's hashtag not guilty

about eating all the tasty
treats they want?"

Not only is that offensive,
it's basically pointless.

The best and only advertising
Entenmann's needs

is a circular yellow sticker
that says

"Only one dollar" on it.

That's it.

Because that's what
corporations don't understand.

Twitter is a cocktail party,

where friends and strangers
can meet and chat.

Corporations don't
belong there.

It's like having Tony the Tiger
burst into a conversation

and say, "They're grrrreat!

"Right, guys?

Whatever you were
talking about."

"Tony, we were talking about
Megan's abortion.

"What is wrong with you?

"Why are you even here, Tony?

Get out of here, Tony!"

So, so, with that in mind,

I would like to speak directly
to corporations,

because I think I have an appropriate hashtag game

that I would love you to play.

It's called hashtag
"We understand

"that as corporate entities our
presence in certain discussions

"is not always required,
so we will strive

to limit our activities
to just selling you shit."

And if any of you are thinking,

"Well, that's too long,"
it's not.

It's exactly 140 characters,

so you can't fuck it up
by adding anything else.

If any officially verified
business tweets this,

we will retweet it
from our account,

on the solemn understanding
that the next time

there's a hashtag out there
that seems popular,

you will stay the fuck
out of it.

That is our show. Thank you so much for
watching this week.

We'll see you again next Sunday.
Good night!